It’s been a rough couple of months for West Hollywood councilman John Duran.
Earlier this year, he finally laid to rest a half-a-million-dollar lawsuit in which he was accused of sexually harassing former City Council deputy, Ian Owens.
To make a very long and rather dramatic story short: Duran and Owens initially met on Grindr back in 2012. They hooked up and three months later Duran offered Owens a job in his office. After Owens was fired in January 2015 for allegedly bugging another city employee’s office to listen in on her campaign secrets, he filed a lawsuit against the City of West Hollywood, claiming his one-time Grindr hookup made repeated sexual advances towards him “well over 100 times” while he was employed for him. Duran denied the allegations, noting that Owens didn’t accuse him of harassment until after he was accused of wrongdoing himself.
Last month, the lawsuit was finally settled, with the city forking over $500,000 to Owens. Under the terms of the settlement, both Duran and the city admitted no wrongdoing.
Now, one of Duran’s colleagues, councilman John D’Amico, who is also gay, has come forward to say he doesn’t agree with the city paying half a million smackeroos on Duran’s behalf, implying that his co-worker is some sort of a sex addict who poses a threat to the future of City Hall.
“For years I have glanced over and seen John trolling on Grindr for men,” D’Amico said during a special meeting held earlier this week. “I can no longer agree to believe that we can give John Duran a pass.”
D’Amico also accused the city’s former HR director, LuNita Bock, of failing to respond to Owens complaints in the beginning, allowing them to fester into what has now been labeled “Deputygate,” as well as City Attorney Michael Jenkins for refusing to release a report by private investigator Steve Rodig, who the city hired to investigate the situation.
D’Amico added that he believes Owens was “bullied and shamed” by City Hall officials, and that he was merely a “young city employee who needed more supervision.” Supervision neither Duran nor Bock were willing to provide. He also said he fears unless Duran is held accountable, “this kind of thing may happen again.”
Duran responded to D’Amico’s comments by saying the whole year-long mess was all one big “political stunt,” pivoting the blame toward Owens by calling him one of “the most detested employees at City Hall.” He then apologized “for hiring a friend. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“But,” he added, “I will never apologize for sexual harassment because I didn’t do that.”
Watch video of D’Amico discussing Duran’s conduct below.
Councilmember John D'Amico makes a courageous and bold public statement at last night's WeHo City Council Meeting on the $500,000 payout to a city employee Councilmember Duran had sex with and then hired as his six figure salaried deputy
Posted by WeHo Residents Alliance on Tuesday, March 8, 2016