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City Clerk Denies Harassment Charges : Government: Elias Martinez disputes allegations by a former subordinate. Mayor has called for his firing.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Embattled Los Angeles City Clerk Elias Martinez, in a confidential report that provides graphic details of the sexual harassment case against him, denies that he repeatedly touched a 31-year-old female former subordinate and maintained a sexually charged atmosphere in his office.

The 20-page report to City Council members offers the first look at the case against Martinez, one of the city’s three Latino department heads. Mayor Tom Bradley on Monday asked the council to support his bid to fire Martinez for sexual harassment.

Martinez, 54, has refused numerous requests for interviews about the accusations, first disclosed last month by The Times.

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According to the report obtained Tuesday, Martinez’s principal accuser--a woman who now works in another city agency--alleged that Martinez pressed his groin area against her while she was in his private office.

She also maintained that he played footsie with her during a luncheon at an upscale pizza restaurant and rubbed her thigh when they were at another restaurant.

In the report, Martinez--who earns $116,332 a year at the job he has held since 1983--denies the accusations.

Martinez said he is too short to have been able to touch the woman’s foot with his foot while they ate lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen on Bunker Hill on May 2, 1991. Several other city clerk’s office workers also attended the luncheon.

“The seating arrangements at the luncheon were such that I--not a particularly tall person--could not possibly have reached the complainant with my foot,” Martinez said in the report.

Martinez called the other alleged touching incidents involving the employee “fabrications.” At the Redwood Room, a downtown Los Angeles restaurant, the woman was drunk and thus her account of him fondling her thigh was not credible, Martinez said.

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Finally, Martinez said the woman’s claim that he had asked her to bring a document into his office and then had rubbed his groin against her was not true because the documents in question were always kept in his office.

According to the report, Martinez also is accused of leering and making suggestive remarks to four other female workers in his office, which he also denies.

Martinez maintained in the report that the city’s investigation of the sexual misconduct claims was biased.

Particularly bothersome, Martinez maintained, was that he was not given sufficient time to prepare his defense for a hearing last month into the accusations before Deputy Mayor Mark Fabiani. Martinez said he asked for 30 days to prepare for the hearing but received only 16.

“I am being treated as if I had not accumulated a 32-year record of unblemished service to the city,” Martinez said. “Such a rush to judgment . . . particularly in light of the palpable weakness of the charges against me, reflects no credit on the city.”

Although Martinez provided no explanation about why he would be the victim of a biased investigation, Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores offered one.

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Flores said Tuesday she was concerned about the fairness of the mayor’s review of the Martinez case because the clerk had once angered Bradley by refusing to allow him to rescind approval of an ordinance he had mistakenly signed into law in early 1991.

Flores said Martinez had told her staff at the time that the mayor “had threatened to fire him” over the incident. The situation involved a ballot measure to enable the City Council to override decisions made by Bradley’s most powerful commissions. Bradley opposed the measure, which was approved by voters.

“That might have colored his review of these allegations,” Flores said. “I don’t know for a fact that they did, but I’d have more confidence in the allegations and recommendations if they had been prepared by someone else.”

But Fabiani on Tuesday called Flores’ concerns “ridiculous.” Bradley’s findings simply followed those made to him by the city attorney’s office and the Personnel Department, he said.

“They were not changed one iota by the mayor,” Fabiani said. He refused to provide copies of the recommendations.

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