LYNWOOD (CNS) - A second woman has come forward to accuse Lynwood Councilman Edwin Hernandez of behaving inappropriately toward her while she was employed with the city, it was reported today.
Marisela Santana, 45, said Hernandez sexually harassed her and later retaliated against her after she was hired as the city's spokeswoman in late 2012, a year before Hernandez was elected into office, the Los Angeles Times reported.
``He wanted us to be more than friends outside of City Hall,'' Santana said. ``He wanted something physical, and I said no."
The allegations come more than three weeks after Monica Ochoa, a senior accounting technician with the city, accused Hernandez of sexual harassment, prompting officials to launch an independent investigation.
Since Ochoa went public last month, city officials have said they have learned about other claims of inappropriate behavior involving Hernandez, The Times reported. So far, four women have made accusations against him, including Ochoa and Santana, but at least two women have declined to file formal complaints, according to the newspaper.
``This is a dark cloud over us," Lynwood Mayor Jose Solache said in remarks quoted by The Times, adding that the City Council and administrators are taking the allegations against his council colleague seriously.
``We want to make sure we respect the employee and acknowledge the allegations," he said. ``But we also want to give Hernandez the right to a process."
Hernandez, who stepped away from his duties as mayor pro tem, did not respond to requests for comment.
Lisa Bloom, an attorney representing Ochoa and Santana, hopes more women will come forward to support her clients.
``This investigation is not going to go on forever; it's going to close soon. It's not going to be helpful for someone to come forward a year from now," she said, according to The Times.
``One woman standing up against a powerful guy is probably not going to win. Two? Maybe, maybe not. Three, we're going to win. Four, we're going to win.
``Standing together, we are believed; we have strength,'' she said.