John Duran, the mayor of West Hollywood, will resign his role as chairman of the board of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, according to an announcement made by the group on Monday night. Duran, who is also a prominent fundraiser for the chorus, has been accused of sexual misconduct.
Multiple current or former chorus members told the Los Angeles Times that they were victims of Duran’s harassment. Singers Brian Phillip Nichoalds and Jason Tong reported similar incidents of Duran putting his hands inside their pants or underwear without consent. Other accusations include inappropriate comments and touching.
Tong says he reported the incident to leaders within the Gay Men’s Chorus, but felt not enough was done to look into Duran’s behavior, alleging in the Times that management “supported somebody who wielded power, rather than somebody who is vulnerable and needs community.”
The group’s executive director, Jonathan Weedman, and another board member, Diane Abbitt, both told the Times that they were previously aware of only one allegation against Duran. Nonetheless, Weedman has called for the chorus to implement mandatory harassment training–and he acknowledges that it may be time for a change in organizational culture.
“This organization is rife with different levels of what people consider acceptable workplace conduct,” he said. “It is time for this, and perhaps a bit overdue.”
For his part, Duran denies all the allegations against him. He insists that he already planned to resign his post on the board at the end of the current season, and the departure is in no way related to the controversy.
In 2016, when Duran was a member of West Hollywood City Council, an aide received a settlement of $500,000 as the result of a sexual harassment suit against the city and Duran; despite the payment, neither the city nor Duran admitted wrongdoing in that incident.
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