Ex-Garcetti lawyer says mayor intervened after advisor pushed up against her in an elevator
Mayor Eric Garcetti intervened when his former high-level advisor pushed up against a female aide while they and others were packed into a small elevator on Capitol Hill, the woman has testified in a deposition.
The allegation is the latest development in a lawsuit by Matthew Garza, a Los Angeles police officer who has accused former Garcetti advisor Rick Jacobs of sexually harassing him.
In his suit, Garza alleged he was the subject of shoulder rubs, hugs and sexual comments by Jacobs from 2014 to 2019, and the mayor witnessed the behavior but did not stop it. Jacobs denied sexually harassing anyone.
Julia Brooke Ciardullo, Garcetti’s former chief legal counsel, described an incident in 2017 in a crowded elevator in the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Once in the elevator, Jacobs made a joke about the elevator being a tight fit, invaded her personal space and got too close, Ciardullo testified Thursday in her deposition, which was reviewed Tuesday by The Times.
“I told him to cut it out,” she said. “And he was, you know, joking and laughing and ... I can’t recall if I told him to cut it out again, but essentially the mayor told him also. And I’m not saying this was his exact words, but [Garcetti] said something to the effect of, you know, ‘Stop’ or ‘Cut it out.’”
Asked by Garza’s attorney whether Jacobs made contact physically, she replied, “I imagine.”
The Facebook posts from Garcetti staffers contrasted sharply with the mayor’s public persona, where he has called for his office to ‘lead with love.’
“I mean, if you’re asking if there was body contact like I said, I mean, it’s — possible. Probable. Yes,” Ciardullo testified. Later in the deposition she testified that she was holding a large bag in front of her, and that Jacobs may have pushed up against the bag and not her body.
She also testified that what occurred on the elevator was not sexual harassment.
A statement released by the mayor’s office Tuesday night said Garcetti “does not remember what was described in the testimony, but Ms. Ciardullo is a person of high character and integrity — and her description is consistent with how he would handle any situation where he witnesses someone behaving unprofessionally.”
Jacobs could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Ciardullo is now director of the Office of the C40 Chair, an umbrella organization for big-city mayors.
The disclosure of her testimony comes one week after Garcetti placed his chief of staff, Ana Guerrero, on administrative leave in response to revelations about disparaging statements she made in a private Facebook group about labor icon Dolores Huerta and others.
The existence of that Facebook group was first disclosed in depositions in the police officer’s lawsuit. It comes as Garcetti, according to sources, is being considered to become ambassador to India.
During a deposition in Garza’s lawsuit against the city earlier this year, Garcetti denied allegations that he knew of sexual harassment or misconduct by Jacobs.
In her testimony, Ciardullo said she did not see Jacobs behave inappropriately around Garza.
Jeremy Bernard, the former head of the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, testified in a separate deposition that he heard Garcetti express surprise that the city had not been sued over Jacobs’ behavior.
Garcetti, in his own deposition, denied making such a statement to Bernard, a former social secretary for President Obama.
Another former Garcetti aide, Henry Casas, has also testified that Jacobs repeatedly touched Garza, adding that he too was hugged and his bicep was squeezed by Jacobs. Casas testified that it was common knowledge in the mayor’s office that Jacobs engaged in inappropriate behavior toward male employees.
Other depositions in the lawsuit remain under seal at the city’s request. The Times has asked a judge to make that testimony public.
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