LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A La Puente city councilwoman has dropped the San Gabriel Valley community's mayor as a defendant in a lawsuit in which she had alleged the city's leader did nothing when she complained of sexual harassment by the city manager and instead joined the then-city attorney in interfering with her ability to perform her duties as a public official.
Lawyers for Councilwoman Violeta Lewis filed court papers with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis asking that Mayor Charles Klinakis be dismissed from the case. No reasons were given, but the action was taken “without prejudice,” meaning Klinakis could be reinstated as a defendant later.
The case will proceed against the city and City Manager Robert Lindsey. Lewis alleges discrimination and harassment based on gender and race, assault, aiding and abetting and failure to investigate, prevent and correct state Fair Housing and Employment violations.
Lewis, first elected in April 2012, seeks compensatory damages as well as punitive damages from Lindsey in the suit brought May 19.
The 68-year-old Klinakis previously said, “I am confident that over time the real truth will come out. In the meantime I will continue to stay focused on moving the city forward.'
In her court papers, Nancy P. Doumanian, the attorney for Klinakis, Lindsey and the city, stated that Lewis engaged in a “smear campaign” directed at the mayor.
“The mayor is shocked by these allegations against him and contends he does not belong in this lawsuit,” Doumanian wrote in her court papers.
“Interestingly, the plaintiff was Mayor Klinakis' tenant and they always got along very well with one another.”
Regarding Lindsey, Doumanian wrote in her court papers that Lewis “does not allege that this defendant ever touched her or made any contact with her person.”
According to the suit, the city, as a government employer using taxpayer funds, should an example for compliance with sexual harassment and discrimination laws for the private sector.
The city hired Lindsey as a transition city manager in October 2018, when Lewis was serving as mayor, the suit states. His duties included assisting the plaintiff in developing policies, goals and objectives for the city and to keep Lewis informed about important community issues, the suit states.
Several months after being hired, Lindsey began sexually harassing Lewis and “aggressively pursued a sexual relationship” with her, the suit states. He also made sexually oriented comments and stared at Lewis in an offensive, sexual manner, according to the suit.
Lindsey told Lewis that he loved her and said, “If we ran the world, it would be perfect,” the suit states.
After Lewis came forward and complained, the city “immediately began a coverup, starting with a sham investigation designed to sweep the matter under the rug and to create the illusion of a proper investigation, which it was not,” the suit states.
Then City Attorney Jaime Casso -- who is not a defendant – and Klinakis called Lewis and urged her not to file a sexual harassment or retaliation complaint against Lindsey, the suit states.Klinakis believed Lewis should tolerate or expect such behavior from Lindsey and that the plaintiff “had essentially asked for it” because Lewis recommended that Lindsey be hired, the suit states.
Lewis eventually filed a complaint against Lindsey and when an investigation into her allegations was completed last September, the only recommendation Casso made to Lewis was, “Talk to Charlie,” the suit states.
The city stripped Lewis of job responsibilities, including disbanding the ad hoc communications committee she led for several years, the suit states.