Lots of Los Angeles Police Department officers have a bone to pick with Mayor Eric Garcetti, but one member of his security detail has actually filed suit against him – claiming that the Mayor allowed Deputy Mayor Rick Jacobs to sexually harass him for years and did nothing to stop it.
LAPD Officer Matthew Garza started working on Garcetti’s security detail in October 2013. As part of the detail, officers accompanied Garcetti and his crew everywhere, including to and from engagements and on out-of-town trips. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Officer Garza claims that between 2014 and 2019 he was “subjected to unwanted sexual harassment by Jacobs, who is openly gay,” that at least half of the incidents occurred in Garcetti’s presence, and that Garcetti did nothing to stop them and sometimes laughed at his friend, Jacobs.
From Fox 11:
Garza claims that over that time period Jacobs would hug him without consent stating words “to the effect of ‘you’re so strong and handsome’; ‘your muscles are so tight’; ‘I love me my strong LAPD officers’; or some other inappropriate comment.”
According to the complaint, the long, tight hugs, accompanied by Jacobs’ inappropriate comments made Garza “extremely uncomfortable.”
“The Mayor took no action to stop the comments from being made or even identify the comments as being inappropriate. On some occasions, the Mayor would laugh at Jacobs’ crude comments,” the lawsuit alleges.
In the complaint, Garza related that during one out-of-town trip Jacobs asked him to sit on his lap, and that during another, while Garcetti and a VIP group were having cocktails in a hotel bar, Jacobs “looked directly at Plaintiff and licked his straw in a sexual manner.” Garza contends that the Mayor’s staff were aware of Jacobs’ harassment and apologized for his conduct, in effect saying that Jacobs was a pig and they’re sorry that Garza had to deal with his behavior. But, no one attempted to stop Jacobs.
On June 18, 2020, following a leave of absence for a back injury, Garza “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 lawsuit states.
Garza said that he lost his rank as Police Officer III + 1 in the Mayor’s details, a rank he obtained around April 2014. He said that in losing his rank, he lost approximately 5% of his base salary, approximately $20,000 in overtime a year, as well as other privileges and benefits.
As of the time the Fox LA story was published, Jacobs had not replied to requests for comment. A few hours later, though, he replied.
UPDATE: Statement from Rick Jacobs, the accused Garcetti advisor.
“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. I will vigorously defend myself, my character and my reputation." @FOXLA
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) July 14, 2020
Garcetti’s office has not replied to a request for comment.