Weaver settles, writes letter of apology over alleged groping incident

Councilman Dave Weaver has agreed to give $2,000 and a letter of apology to a woman who accused him of groping her at a Mexican restaurant last year.

The woman, Lolita Gonzalves, went public with her allegations in April, prompting Weaver’s colleagues on the dais to recommend he receive sexual harassment training the next month.

The two sides had been working through lawyers to settle their dispute out of court after Gonzalves filed a complaint with the city attorney’s office last year.

Weaver’s attorney, Linda Savitt, said Monday that bringing an end to the clash was a “healthy” choice.
“Closure on all of these things is good,” she said, declining to comment on whether Weaver planned to take the sexual harassment training.

Weaver directed all media inquiries to Savitt.

Gonzalves said she agreed to the settlement on the recommendation of her attorney, but she does not think it is sufficient. She had originally asked for $10,000, but later said she didn’t care about the money.

 “He got away so easily,” she said by phone. “I want him to be penalized in some other way, but it didn’t happen that way, so I leave it to God.”

Weaver and Gonzalves had been friends for years, often meeting over drinks and dinner to discuss their personal and business affairs.

On the day of the incident, which happened after a council meeting on April 9 2013, and roughly a week before Weaver would begin his one-year term as mayor, the two drank margaritas in a booth at Joselito’s Mexican Food in Montrose.

Gonzalves, who was wearing a suit, took off her jacket and placed it on her lap. The two bickered about her jacket's placement. Weaver told her she didn't have to cover her stomach and then grabbed her right breast, according to her complaint to the city attorney’s office.

Weaver previously said he doesn’t remember the jacket incident and denied the groping. Rather, he was angry and pushed her, not realizing where his hands landed, he said.

The touching was unintentional, he reiterated in the three-sentence settlement letter, which states: “Please accept my apology for the incident of April 9, 2013. In my view what occurred was an accident and unintentional. In any event, I certainly meant no harm and am sorry if it caused you any discomfort.”

Weaver has been criticized for inappropriate actions in the past. However those incidents were kept hidden from the public, unlike the Joselito’s episode. He was harangued by top city officials several years ago for using unseemly language in front of a city employee.

Gonzalves said she is glad the legal hullabaloo is over, but she does not regret revealing her story.
“Everybody will be aware and beware of him,” she said.

-- Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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