Tentative settlement reached in lawsuit over Garcetti aide’s alleged sexual harassment

Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.
A tentative settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles police officer alleging sexual harassment by a key aide to former Mayor Eric Garcetti. Above, LAPD headquarters.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles Police Department officer who accused ex-Mayor Eric Garcetti’s former senior advisor Rick Jacobs of sexual harassment has tentatively agreed to settle his lawsuit with the city, according to court documents.

Attorneys for Matthew Garza, a Metropolitan Division officer assigned to Garcetti’s security detail for a decade, filed documents Thursday saying a tentative settlement has been reached in the case that endangered the former mayor’s political future and revealed widespread allegations of misconduct against Jacobs, a powerful political fixer and key aide to Garcetti.

On Friday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis A. Kin, informed of a “conditional’’ resolution of the case, canceled the Sept. 5 start of the trial.


A source familiar with the lawsuit said the payout is in the range of $1.5 million to $2 million. Any settlement involving a significant amount of money would need City Council approval.

The Senate confirmed former L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti as President Biden’s ambassador to India on Wednesday, ending a nearly two-year fight.

March 15, 2023

Attorney Greg Smith, who represents Garza, declined to comment. Typically such settlements are reached between the city lawyers and the plaintiff’s lawyers and then approved by the council.

Representatives for Jacobs didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for City Atty. Hydee Feldstein Soto declined to comment.

The veteran police officer sued in July 2020, alleging sex and gender harassment, alleging that Jacobs subjected him to tight hugs, shoulder rubs and a plethora of unwanted and unwelcome sexual comments from 2014 to 2019.

Garcetti witnessed some of the behavior but didn’t intervene, Garza’s lawsuit alleges.

Jacobs denied harassing anyone.

Garcetti, now U.S. ambassador to India, denied he condoned any misconduct, saying that he would have acted promptly if he had been informed of a problem. In a deposition, he insisted he never witnessed any of the conduct.

The questions over what Garcetti might have known led Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) to launch an investigation. The investigation found that Garcetti “likely knew or should have known that Rick Jacobs was sexually harassing multiple individuals and making racist comments towards others.”


Meanwhile, a report ordered by the city attorney’s office to help in its defense of the Garza case concluded that Garza was not sexually harassed by Jacobs and that Garcetti did nothing wrong.

A sworn LAPD officer since 1997, Garza began working on Garcetti’s security detail in October 2013. He alleged Jacobs would extend his hand for a purported handshake, but then pull Garza toward him to give a “long, tight hug,” while simultaneously saying, “I love me my strong LAPD officers” or some other “inappropriate comment,” according to the suit.

Jacobs, in his deposition, acknowledged that he may have hugged Garza and made sexual jokes in front of the mayor’s security detail team.

Two other men who worked in Garcetti’s office also gave deposition testimony in which they said they were subjected to unwanted touching from Jacobs.

One of the mayor’s former communications directors, Naomi Seligman, testified that she complained about Jacobs’ alleged misconduct to Garcetti’s onetime chief of staff, Ana Guerrero. She said nothing was ever done about it. Guerrero denies that she was ever told.

Garcetti, in his own deposition, denied that he witnessed Jacobs inappropriately touch Garza and denied that he heard Jacobs talk explicitly about sex, saying such behavior would be “completely out of character” for Jacobs.


As former L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti prepares to move India as U.S. ambassador, the allegations involving an aide that held up his nomination remain unresolved, with a trial scheduled later this year.

March 16, 2023

Garcetti was also shown a photo that appeared in The Times of Jacobs placing his hand near the crotch of a man as the two posed for a group photo at a convention in Miami in 2017. Garcetti stands next to the two men and others, smiling and giving a double thumbs-up gesture.

Asked to explain why his former aide made the gesture, the mayor replied: “No. You’d have to ask Mr. Jacobs.”

Garcetti added he “absolutely” did not see the gesture at the time.

Jacobs has called the lawsuit “a work of pure fiction.” Jacobs raised millions of dollars in support of Garcetti’s 2013 mayoral campaign and was a top City Hall deputy before stepping down in 2016. He continued to work as a political consultant for Garcetti and helped run two nonprofits associated with the mayor until Garza filed his lawsuit.

The allegations concerned some senators, which led Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to delay a vote on Garcetti’s nomination to be ambassador to India.

The former mayor’s parents — onetime L.A. County Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti and Sukey Garcetti — hired lobbyists to help win his confirmation, and the former mayor leaned on the few Washington friends he had. In March, the Senate confirmed his nomination.


A spokesperson for City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who chairs the city’s budget committee that deals with legal settlements, declined to comment Friday on the proposed settlement.

Communications director Jake Flynn said any settlement will be reviewed, but “as of now there is nothing before the committee.”