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L.A. hires law firm to investigate sexual misconduct claims involving Garcetti advisor

Los Angeles City Hall against a blue sky
The city of Los Angeles has hired an outside law firm to investigate sexual harassment allegations involving Rick Jacobs, a longtime advisor to Mayor Eric Garcetti. Above, City Hall.
( Richard Derk / Los Angeles Times)

The city of Los Angeles has hired an outside law firm to investigate allegations that Rick Jacobs, a longtime political consultant to Mayor Eric Garcetti, sexually harassed an L.A. police officer who served as a bodyguard for Garcetti.

Word of the hiring comes as new accusations of misconduct by Jacobs surfaced this week.

“Our office has retained an outside investigator to do an independent investigation,” Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer, said Wednesday. He declined to provide any further details.

Two sources told The Times that the city has retained Leslie Ellis of the Ellis & Makus law firm, who is a specialist in sensitive workplace investigations, to examine the allegations involving Jacobs. She is seeking to interview the LAPD officer who made the initial complaint and others, the sources said.

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A source said the law firm was hired as part of the city attorney’s representation of the city in the officer’s case.

The outside firm was hired in September, an arrangement that came to light Wednesday.

The police officer sued the city in July, alleging that he was sexually harassed by Jacobs, which Jacobs has denied. The lawsuit claims Garcetti witnessed inappropriate behavior by Jacobs toward the officer but did not stop it. Garcetti has denied seeing any inappropriate behavior.

Journalist Yashar Ali this week also accused Jacobs of sexual misconduct.

The Times reported Wednesday that two other men said they have been the targets of unwanted touching or harassment by Jacobs.

One man said Jacobs groped him when he was leaving a party at Jacobs’ house in 2012. The other man — a longtime Democratic strategist — told The Times he was talking to friends at an event last year when Jacobs strode over. “He tried to hug and kiss me forcibly,” the man said.

Neither man would agree to allow his name to be published, citing fears of retaliation. Jacobs did not respond to questions about the men’s allegations.

Garcetti is being talked up for a Cabinet post in a potential Biden administration.

Jacobs said Tuesday night that he will “take a leave” from his work amid increasing questions about the allegations. Jacobs is a political consultant to Garcetti, a board member and treasurer for the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles and the leader of another nonprofit focused on economic development.

Ellis’ website states she has “extensive experience conducting impartial investigations for private and public organizations throughout California” and “investigates a variety of issues, including workplace harassment, fraud and compliance, whistleblower complaints and sexual assault.”

Los Angeles Police Department communications director Josh Rubenstein said there is no internal affairs investigation of the officer’s allegations because they do not involve misconduct by LAPD personnel.


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