Investigators' report says city found no sexual harassment evidence

Investigators looking into sexual harassment accusations against Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar "did not locate any evidence to support that the alleged discrimination, retaliation, or harassment occurred," according to a section of their final report.

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Francine Godoy sued Huizar last year, alleging she faced retaliation and discrimination after refusing to provide "sexual favors." Huizar has said that he and Godoy had a consensual affair and called the accusations "malicious and false."

Godoy filed a complaint against Huizar last summer, prompting Council President Herb Wesson to convene an investigative committee to look into the allegations. The panel then turned to the firm Batza and Associates, which produced a report on its investigation.

Godoy did not speak to city investigators. Her attorney Michael Eisenberg argued that the probe was "fatally tainted" after Wesson publicly called Huizar his "best friend on the council" at a fundraiser days after Godoy filed her lawsuit. Wesson said he had no role in choosing the committee members or their investigative firm.

The Batza and Associates report found no evidence to support a long list of claims made by Godoy, including that she was harassed, discriminated against and retaliated against, according to its three-page "Conclusion" section. The copy of that section was obtained by The Times on Friday.

The investigation found no evidence that Godoy was demoted or denied a promotion, stating that "to the contrary, she was promoted and received monetary raises multiple times, at a faster rate than most other staff" in Huizar's office. 

Nor did the city investigation turn up evidence that Godoy was denied employment, according to the report conclusions. Instead, "email evidence indicated she had begun circulating her resume" and was considering leaving the office as early as 2012.

Investigators also found no evidence that Huizar had created a hostile work environment, the conclusions said. Though some emails showed Huizar scolding workers, including Godoy, he also praised employees, the report found.

"Again, to the contrary of the allegation, many [Council District 14] staff members expressed that Ms Godoy created a hostile work environment, by targeting others with criticism and profanity,” the report section said.

The investigators stated that “as Ms. Godoy refused to cooperate, our investigation was as thorough as possible given the circumstances … This does not preclude the existence of additional evidence unknown to our investigator at the time of the investigation; however, there is insufficient evidence to support Ms. Godoy’s allegations of retaliation or quid pro quo.”

In a statement released Friday, Godoy attorney Eisenberg said it was "interesting (and telling)" that the investigators didn't wait until June, when Godoy would present her allegations at a deposition in her separate civil lawsuit. 

He disputed an earlier statement by Robert Alaniz, spokesman for the law firm representing Huizar, who said that the report had shown the accusations to be "baseless."

"The real verdict in this case will be in November after a jury hears about Huizar and his despicable conduct," Eisenberg said.

Alaniz said in his Friday statement, "We have maintained all along that Ms. Godoy's claims are false and malicious and that her claims are motivated by greed and a desire to destroy the Councilmember's reputation because he would not help advance her career as she demanded."

After the Council emerged from a closed meeting on the case, Councilman Bernard C. Parks said the lack of participation by Godoy had stopped the city from carrying out "a full investigation."

"The thing is, there's nothing in [the document] of any substance," Parks said Friday.


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