Councilman accused of sexual harassment

Lolita Gonzalves used to think of Councilman Dave Weaver as a father figure, but that was before she filed a complaint with Glendale's city attorney alleging that he groped her at a Mexican restaurant last year.

Gonzalves has spoken to Los Angeles County District Attorney officials about the incident and attorneys for Gonzalves and Weaver have been negotiating a settlement to prevent a civil lawsuit. Weaver, who ended his one-year term as mayor last week, had last offered $2,000.

For Gonzalves, who has known Weaver since 2007, that wasn't enough; she wants a written admission and apology for the April 9, 2013 incident. And, according to a letter from her attorney, $10,000.

"This is not about money," she said during an interview, stating that if Weaver did give her money, it would go to her lawyer and her church or charities for battered women and children. "It's about my pride and honor."

Weaver adamantly denies groping Gonzalves, though he acknowledged during a phone interview that they argued at the restaurant. He pushed his hand toward her and told her to go away during the argument, he said, adding that he is unsure where his hand landed since he looked away.

"It's her word against mine," he said, adding that he was entertaining the settlement negotiations so as not to embarrass his family. "If it happened, it was accidental."

Six days after the alleged incident, Weaver would be appointed mayor. His one-year term ended earlier this month.

Misdemeanor investigation

Los Angeles District Attorney officials opened an investigation in spring 2013 into the incident, which took place after a Tuesday evening council meeting.

Prosecutors believed they had enough evidence to file misdemeanor charges, but they did not because Gonzalves told authorities not to proceed, spokeswoman Jane Robison said. Gonzalves said she was confused and thought District Attorney officials had reached a dead end.

Monty Manibog, Gonzalves' attorney, asked investigators to reopen the criminal case in a March 19 letter. Robison said prosecutors do consider reopening an investigation if the alleged victim requests it. Manibog has not received a response to his request.

Previous issues

This isn't the first time Weaver has faced allegations of unfitting behavior. Eight years ago, city officials investigated — but did not substantiate — an allegation that Weaver made "inappropriate comments" about a city employee. Within the May 2006 report written by former City Atty. Scott Howard, an individual did share general concerns about Weaver during the investigation.

An unidentified person told investigators "she had heard about all her employees" that had complained about Weaver's conduct. The woman did not name the employees or what supposedly happened, "although she indicated it was different types of sexual harassment," according to the report.

The report, obtained via a California Public Records Act request, was heavily redacted.

It was redacted because the public interest served in protecting the privacy rights of the people involved outweighed the public interest served in full disclosure, Sr. Asst. City Attorney Lucy Varpetian wrote in her response to the request. Other responsive documents were also withheld under the same reasoning.

Weaver said he was surprised by the comment in the report. The only sexual harrassment claim he was scolded for at City Hall, he said, involved using the word "pussy" when describing female anatomy in a sonogram of his then-unborn granddaughter. He didn't consider the word inappropriate at the time because it was used in a James Bond movie, he said.

Former City Attorney Scott Howard and former City Manager Jim Starbird met with Weaver afterwards to explain that the councilman shouldn't be using that language at City Hall.

Gonzalves also mentioned other unseemly behavior in her April 10, 2013 complaint to City Atty. Mike Garcia. On occasion, she wrote, Weaver would show her "cut-out pictures" of women in mini-skirts and bikinis during lunch or dinner meetings in which Weaver gave the business consultant advice on projects.

Weaver said he doesn't remember showing her pictures.

"If I said 'No, I absolutely did not,' I may be lying because I don't know," he said. "Maybe I did, maybe I didn't."

Mexican Restaurant

On the day of the incident, Gonzalves said she called Weaver to catch up, according to the complaint. The two hadn't spoken for a few months and made plans to meet at Joselito's Mexican Food, both said. They sat in Weaver's usual booth on the second floor, according to a letter written by his attorney. They both drank margaritas, according to Gonzalves' complaint.

Gonzalves, who was wearing a suit, took off her jacket and placed it on her lap. The two bickered about her jacket's placement. Weaver told her she didn't have to cover her stomach and then grabbed her right breast, according to the complaint.

Weaver said he couldn't remember the jacket scenario and denied any impropriety.

"Well, she had been gaining weight. I know that," he said. "I don't remember those details. I don't have that kind of memory anymore."

After the incident, Gonzalves got out of the booth and searched for their waiter, Lalo Mier. She told him she wanted to pay for her drink and leave because Weaver grabbed her breast.

"Yeah, she told me about it," Mier said last month, adding that he didn't see what happened and was surprised by the allegations.

Corey Grijalva, the restaurant's owner, said he has security cameras throughout the eatery, but the tapes are erased every 20 days and he's the only one who watches them. He didn't see the footage from that night and by the time District Attorney investigators came to visit about a month after the alleged incident, the tapes were wiped.

Formal complaint

The following day, Gonzalves wrote the complaint letter to the city attorney.

"I don't even know if I did the right thing by writing you," she wrote in the letter. "He just didn't disgrace himself, but the whole city of Glendale because of his wrongdoing/action."

She went on to say that she wanted an apology.

Weaver said if all she wanted was an apology, he would have given one the next day.

After Gonzalves filed the complaint, Garcia told her that Weaver's conduct was a personal matter and did not involve the city, but because the alleged act could be criminal, he put her in contact with the Glendale Police Department to file a report, according to an October letter sent by Garcia to Gonzalves' attorney.

On April 24, a Glendale police detective interviewed Gonzalves about the incident, according to two pages of a "misdemeanor assault report" provided to Gonzalves. It did not include Weaver's name. A request for the complete report was denied.

The matter was forwarded to the District Attorney's office because the subject of the investigation was a Glendale elected official, according to Garcia's October letter.

"I thought [Weaver] was a good man, a family man, a role model in the city," Gonzalves said. "That's all I knew about him, but now with all of these things that happened… I feel sorry that I got involved in knowing this person."


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