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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Woman Sues L.A. to Stop|Sexual Harassment Probe

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A pregnant L.A. city official who named a city councilman in a sexual harassment lawsuit asked a judge to stop an investigation headed by the councilman's friend and political ally.

Francine Godoy sued the city of Los Angeles on Tuesday in Superior Court.

About a week and a half earlier, Godoy sued her former boss, L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar, in the same court.

Godoy claims the councilman sexually harassed her and blocked her run for a seat on a community college board after she resisted his advances.

Huizar has admitted that he had an extramarital affair with Godoy, his former deputy chief of staff, but denied he harassed her.

City Council President Herb Wesson, who has appeared with Huizar at campaign events to launch the councilman's run for the 14th District, moved to form a special committee to investigate Godoy's claims after she filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in June.

Now Godoy, 34, sued the city, claiming that Wesson's close ties to Huizar prevent a fair and impartial investigation.

Since the City Council has to determine only whether it should foot the bill for Huizar's legal fees, Godoy claims the city's investigation is premature.

Godoy cites remarks Wesson reportedly made last week as he endorsed Huizar during a campaign event in downtown L.A.

Wesson said: "'Mr. Huizar is like my brother, he is my best friend on the council. I trust him with my life, he does the same for me,'" the complaint states.

Godoy claims Wesson's special committee is "fatally tainted by Wesson's deep, intimate personal and professional ties to Huizar and Wesson's unabashed and enthusiastic public support of Huizar."

The committee has subpoenaed Godoy to appear Wednesday, the day before she is scheduled for a Caesarean section, her complaint states, adding that Huizar was not subpoenaed.

Godoy She accuses Wesson, Huizar and their friends on the City Council of "using the subpoena power of the committee as a cynical ploy to conduct 'free discovery.'"

"Wesson is using this extraordinary measure as a means to promote Huizar's personal interests and Wesson's political interests, as well as to harass, vex, annoy, and intimidate plaintiff and unnecessarily deprive her of her liberty, and to abrogate plaintiff's civil right to have discovery conducted in the lawsuit pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure," the seven-page lawsuit states.

She asks the court to enjoin the special committee from making her appear and from continuing the investigation.

Huizar told reporters last week that he had an "occasional and consensual" relationship with his former staffer.

"I made a huge mistake when it comes to the relationship I had with this woman," Huizar said.

Godoy is represented by Michael Eisenberg with Eisenberg & Associates.

Eisenberg told Courthouse News Service that the firm does not comment on pending litigation.

The city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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