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Garcetti says new information led him to cut ties with aide accused of sexual harassment

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gives an address.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti addresses delegates on the final night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Wednesday that he personally asked his longtime advisor Rick Jacobs, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, to take a leave last week after learning of new allegations.

“It was a mutual decision, but I did ask him to right now have us be separated from that,” Garcetti said. “I think that has to happen.”

The mayor also reiterated that he had not witnessed inappropriate behavior on the part of Jacobs, his former deputy chief of staff and a confidant.

“No, absolutely and categorically no,” Garcetti said.

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Questions about Jacobs’ behavior began this summer when LAPD Officer Matthew Garza sued the city, alleging that Jacobs made crude remarks and touched him inappropriately. That lawsuit alleges that Garcetti and mayoral staff saw Jacobs’ behavior but didn’t do anything to stop it.

Jacobs has denied any wrongdoing.

Journalist Yashar Ali alleged last week that Jacobs repeatedly and forcibly kissed him. Two men told The Times that Jacobs forcibly touched or tried to touch and kiss them — one in 2012, the other in 2019.

A spokesman for the mayor said the newly surfaced accusations prompted him to cut ties with Jacobs.

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The allegations have the potential to be politically damaging to Garcetti, who is an advisor to the Joe Biden campaign and has been talked about as a potential Cabinet member if Biden is elected president.

The mayor was set to take part in a Biden campaign event last week, a conversation with Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright, but dropped out. He has done several events for the Biden campaign since, however.

Jacobs said in an emailed statement last week that he had dedicated himself to advocacy and public service for 17 years and would “take a leave” from his work amid increasing questions about the allegations.

Jacobs served as a board member and treasurer of the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles and headed a nonprofit he founded with Garcetti that’s focused on economic development.

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Garcetti was forced twice this week to address the Jacobs situation when asked during public events.

On Monday, he told reporters: “Given these new allegations, I reached out and he does not represent me, and we are not working together. He has stepped back, I understand, from all of his both political and his nonprofit work, as well. And he does not represent me.”

Garcetti was also asked Monday what message he has for his staff, who could be called to testify in the Garza case. Garza’s lawsuit says that aides working for the mayor witnessed the alleged harassment and apologized to the police officer about Jacobs’ behavior.

“Tell the truth, always,” Garcetti replied.

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In June, a month before Garza filed the lawsuit, he outlined his sexual harassment allegations in more detail in a three-page complaint to state authorities aimed at preserving his right to sue. That complaint, which was reviewed by The Times last week, says that Garcetti spoke with First Lady Amy Wakeland about Jacobs’ behavior. That detail isn’t included in the civil lawsuit in July.

The name of the individual Garza said harassed him is redacted in the complaint, but the details match those found in the lawsuit filed in L.A. County Superior Court. The complaint says Garza was subject to inappropriate comments in the mayor’s presence.

“In fact, Garcetti has discussed with his wife that [Jacobs’] behavior would one day be held to account,” the complaint says.

Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said last week the mayor didn’t witness any harassment.

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Jacobs has called Garza’s lawsuit “pure fiction.” He hasn’t responded to The Times’ questions about the three other men’s allegations.


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