City Councilman Nate Holden testified Wednesday that an ex-clerk suing him for sexual harassment once showed up at his City Hall office and walked toward his desk, grinning and with open arms.
Holden said it was Marlee M. Beyda who made what he believed was an improper advance toward him in 1992, in the months before she resigned and eventually filed her complaint against him.
"She was in front of my desk saying, 'Hi, councilman,"' Holden testified in Los Angeles Superior Court, where the non-jury trial in Beyda's lawsuit continued for a third day.
"She began to smile and grin and stuff, moving around to the side of my desk with her arms open," Holden said.
The 66-year-old councilman said he discouraged Beyda, though, and told her to "go on around to the other side of my desk" because he thought her actions were "not proper."
Beyda sued Holden, several of his deputies and the city of Los Angeles after quitting her job in September, 1992, claiming the councilman groped her and verbally harassed her at work and at his Marina del Rey condominium. The 33-year-old former waitress and UCLA art student also alleges he offered her gifts and the chance to go to city-related events, in hopes of getting her to have a sexual relationship with him.
Holden has tried to imply through his testimony that Beyda was the aggressor in their relationship, saying she wrote him notes signed "love" and sharing anecdotes with him about her troubled childhood.
He claims Beyda invited herself to his home several times--once offering to bring chicken soup when he was sick, and another time to deliver a videotape titled "Wounded Child," by self-help guru John Bradshaw.
Superior Court Judge Raymond Mireles allowed Holden's attorney, Skip Miller, to play a portion of the tape, but kept the volume low and positioned the TV screen so that only he and the lawyers could see it.
Holden testified that, in December, 1991, Beyda gave him a painting she made for him and signed: "You came through for me every time. You are a man of your word, and for this I am grateful. With love, Marlee."
Holden concedes he gave Beyda a jogging suit and a scarf, and that he introduced her to a friend who arranged for her to live rent-free at a Mandeville Canyon home if she kept an eye on its 80-year-old occupant.