A Los Angeles police officer who worked as a bodyguard for Mayor Eric Garcetti for seven years filed a lawsuit against the city Monday alleging a top advisor of the mayor’s repeatedly sexually harassed him.
The suit says that Mayor Garcetti was present when many cases of the alleged harassment took place but that he would ‘laugh’ at the comments and did nothing to intervene.
LAPD cop Matthew Garza said he refused to go back to working in the mayor’s security detail in June because of the continued harassment from longtime Garcetti consultant Rick Jacobs.
Garza claims Jacobs, a former executive vice mayor of Los Angeles, made crude sexual comments and touched him inappropriately over several years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Longtime LA Mayor Eric Garcetti consultant Rick Jacobs, pictured center, has been accused of sexual harassment against a cop who worked in the mayor’s security detail in a new lawsuit
The suit alleges the harassment took place on trips Garcetti took to Arizona, New Hampshire and elsewhere.
Garza, who first joined the police force in 1997, became a member of the mayor’s security detail in October 2013, according to the suit.
The detail involves accompanying the mayor at all times, driving him to and from his engagements and traveling with him on out-of-town trips.
Over the following years, the suit claims, Garza was ‘subjected to unwanted sexual harassment by Jacobs, who is openly gay’.
It alleges that the harassment only let up for a brief period in 2016 when Jacobs was on a leave of absence from Garcetti’s team of top advisors for an unknown reason.
Garza filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday alleging sex/gender harassment and the existence of a hostile work environment in violation of the California Fair Housing and Employment Act.
The city of Los Angeles is the only named defendant.
According to the suit, the harassment began in 2014 and continued up until October 2019.
It claims Jacobs would pull Garza into a ‘long, tight hug’ while making an ‘inappropriate comment’ such as ‘”you’re so strong and handsome”; “your muscles are so tight”; “I love me my strong LAPD officers”.’
In the lawsuit, LAPD cop Matthew Garza claims that Mayor Garcetti, pictured, was present for much of the harassment but did not intervene and would even ‘laugh’ at some of the comments
Garza said it made him ‘extremely uncomfortable’.
Jacobs was also accused of repeatedly talking about his young gay lover, having ‘rough sex’ with his gay partners, liking ‘big c***’ and being attracted to younger men, the complaint states.
A March 2016 incident in the lawsuit alleges that Jacobs gestured for Garza to ‘sit on his lap’ after spotting him in a hotel bar when the mayor’s team traveled to Phoenix for a fundraiser.
Another incident cited in the suit claims Jacobs on several occasions massaged Garza’s shoulders from the backseat of a car when the team traveled to New Hampshire so the mayor could give a college commencement address in May 2018.
Garza said Garcetti was sitting next to Jacobs but did nothing to stop the unwanted advances.
Rick Jacobs, a former executive vice mayor, has denied all the claims
In a trip later that year, Garza claims Jacobs pointed to some Magnum brand condoms in a gas station and asked Garza if he wears Magnum large condoms.
‘Garcetti was present on approximately half of the occasions when Jacobs behaved in this way, and witnessed Jacobs’ conduct, but he took no action to correct Jacobs’ obviously harassing behavior,’ the suit claims.
‘On some occasions, the mayor would laugh at Jacobs’ crude comments.’
It also claims that other Garcetti staffers would apologize to Garza for Jacobs’ behavior but no actions were ever taken to end it.
‘Over a dozen occasions, both while Jacobs was employed by the city and after he left city employment, staffers in Mayor Garcetti’s office apologized to [Garza] for Jacobs’ harassing conduct,’ the suit states.
‘Nevertheless, the mayor’s office never took any action to stop Jacobs’ harassment of [Garza].’
The officer says he eventually decided to leave the security detail last month because of Jacobs’ behavior.
He was returning from a leave of absence for a back injury, but ‘refused to return to the Mayor’s detail because of the continual touchings, comments, and vulgar behavior directed at him by Jacobs and silently condoned by the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles’.
The suit says he lost higher wages and benefits because he was no longer a member of the higher-paying assignment.
Garza said he lost his rank as Police Officer III + 1, as well as approximately 5 percent of his base salary and approximately $20,000 in overtime a year.
Mayor Garcetti, pictured, has denied he witnessed any sexual harassment from Rick Jacobs
The complaint adds Garza will ‘continue to sustain damage to his reputation, and his ability to advance and/or promote in the department has been and will continue to be adversely impacted’.
Jacobs has vigorously denied the claims of harassment made against him.
‘This lawsuit is a work of pure fiction, and is out of left field. Officer Garza and I worked together for many years without incident,’ he said in a statement to the LA Times.
‘I will vigorously defend myself, my character and my reputation.’
The Mayor has also denied that he witnessed any of the sexual harassment claims laid out in Garza’s lawsuit.
‘The mayor has zero tolerance for sexual harassment and unequivocally did not witness the behavior that Officer Garza alleges,’ the mayor’s spokesperson Alex Comisar said.
Jacobs is a long-time political advisor to Garcetti.
According to the Los Angeles Times, he raised millions of dollars in support of Garcetti’s 2013 mayoral campaign.
On Garcetti’s win, he was given a top post of executive vice mayor but stepped down in 2016 when going on a leave of absence for an unknown reason.
Jacobs has previously been accused of threatening a Los Angeles County business organization if they opposed a tax measure supported by the mayor.
Garza’s lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.