Rick Jacobs, a key advisor and former deputy chief of staff to Mayor Eric Garcetti, announced he will “take a leave” from his political duties on Tuesday after a second man openly accused him of unwanted touching, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In July, Jacobs denied any wrongdoing when LAPD officer Matthew Garza sued the city, alleging that Jacobs had repeatedly made sexual comments and touched him inappropriately, massaging his shoulders and hugging him, while he served on the mayor’s security detail. In the suit, Garza also claims that Garcetti knew about Jacobs’s behavior but did nothing to stop it.
Jacobs called the allegations “a work of pure fiction” at the time, and Garcetti denied ever witnessing the events or hearing the language Garza describes in the complaint.
But questions surrounding Jacobs intensified on Monday when freelance journalist Yashar Ali published his account of what he claims were several instances of sexual misconduct by Jacobs over the course of a decade.
Ali writes that between 2005 and 2015, “Jacobs would grab my face and kiss me on the lips—always twice—and he would turn to other people who witnessed it and say, ‘He has the softest lips.’” Ali further claims that he has witnessed “Jacobs at fundraisers over the years subjecting others to forcible kissing, grabbing and sexually explicit comments.”
Jacobs—who is currently the treasurer and a board member of the nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, and is chief executive of an economic development nonprofit that he and Garcetti cofounded—did not address the new allegations in an email statement Tuesday.
He said that after dedicating 17 years to public service and advocacy, “I don’t want this to be a distraction. Therefore, I will take a leave from my nonprofit work and my volunteer political work with the mayor.”
In a statement of his own, Garcetti said, “I take seriously all allegations of harassment. Rick Jacobs has stepped away from his nonprofit and volunteer political work.”
Ali responded on social media, tweeting, “This is only happening because I wrote a story. This is not a compliment…it should not have taken my writing a story for @ericgarcetti to take this step. Why wasn’t a lawsuit filed in July enough to prompt the mayor to take action?”
Two more men, who would not allow the Times to publish their names for fear of political retribution, gave similar accounts to those of Garza and Ali.
One man claims Jacobs grabbed his buttocks at a party at Jacobs’s house in 2012, while another says Jacobs approached him at a party in L.A. last year and that, “He tried to hug and kiss me forcibly.”
Garza’s lawyer, Greg Smith, said in a statement Monday that he expects more people to come forward and that, ”every person should feel free from fear and intimidation when reporting sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace.”
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