Sex and the City (Hall): What Ian Owens Alleges John Duran Said

EDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is actual text from the lawsuit filed Wednesday by City Council Deputy Ian Owens in L.A. Superior Court alleging sexual harassment by his supervisor, City Councilmember John Duran. Duran has admitted to meeting Owens on Grindr, the gay hookup app, and having sex with him, but he has denied Owens’s allegations that he continued to solicit sex from him after he hired Owens. The following text contains language that some readers may find uncomfortable.

Mr. Duran met Mr. Owens on Grindr in April 2012. The first time they met in person, they engaged in sexual relations. This is the one and only time they ever were sexually intimate. Over the course of the next several months, Mr. Duran and Mr. Owens met a few times but did not have further sexual relations. In those subsequent meetings, Mr. Owens made clear to Mr. Duran that he viewed him only has a friend and professional mentor, and was not interested in any type of romantic or sexual relationship. In or around July 2012, Mr. Duran offered Mr. Owens the position of his full-time Deputy at City Hall, and Mr. Owens accepted. Mr. Owens started the job in or around August 2012.

West Hollywood City Council Deputy Ian Owens, left, with Councilmember John Duran (Facebook)
West Hollywood City Council Deputy Ian Owens, left, with Councilmember John Duran (Facebook)

During the course of his employment at City Hall, Mr. Duran made sexual advances and/or sexually suggestive comments towards Mr. Owens well over 100 times. On average, about once or twice a week, Mr. Duran would make a comment to Mr. Owens that either complimented the way he looked (e.g., you look good in that suit) or, as was more often the case, expressed explicit and overt sexual interest (e.g., “I’d bottom for you” or otherwise commenting in a wildly disrespectful manner about Mr. Owens’s sexual appeal). Almost every time this happened, Mr. Owens told Mr. Duran that he was uncomfortable, either bluntly, or in a way that made his discomfort clear in a more diplomatic manner (e.g., laughing in a way that was intended to communicate that he was uncomfortable).

In addition to making direct advances towards Mr. Owens, Mr. Duran would also intentionally make him feel uncomfortable by showing him pictures of people Mr. Duran had sexual encounters with, or telling him graphic stories of Mr. Duran’s sexual encounters. This happened an average of two to three times a week during the course of Mr. Owens’s employment. For example, even though Mr. Owens would object and make clear that he was uncomfortable, Mr. Duran would show Mr. Owens naked pictures of men with whom Mr. Duran had been intimate.

While these constant unwanted advances and sexual bullying took a toll on Mr. Owens, it did not bother Mr. Owens as much as the fact that Mr. Duran would humiliate Mr. Owens in front of others and thereby undermine Mr. Owens’s professionalism. About eighty (80) percent of the time that Mr. Owens and Mr. Duran met with people together outside of City Hall, Mr. Duran would make a comment objectifying and humiliating Mr. Owens such as “all his friends look like that (or similar words)” and “he’s friends with the A-list kids” (or similar words implying that Mr. Owens and his friends are all sexually desirable). Almost every time this happened, Mr. Owens would tell Mr. Duran afterwards that such comments made him feel uncomfortable, but Mr. Duran simply would not stop.

Even at City Hall, Mr. Duran thought it was okay to do whatever he wanted in front of Mr. Owens. For example, sometime in or around the summer of 2014, Mr. Duran told LuNita Bock – the Director of Human Resources for the City – that she had large breasts, and groped her breasts. Even though Mr. Owens was visibly uncomfortable and upset by this behavior, Mr. Duran and Ms. Bock laughed it off and thought it was funny. By constantly objectifying Mr. Owens in front of others, Mr. Duran made people believe that it was somehow okay to do such things to, and in front of, Mr. Owens.

In or around March 2014, Mr. Owens confronted Mr. Duran directly about his sexual advances as well as other issues he was having at work. Mr. Owens got angry and demanded that Mr. Duran keep their relationship professional. Mr. Duran mostly stopped making direct sexual advances after that, but he has since continued to tell Mr. Owens graphic details of his sexual relations and humiliate Mr. Owens in front of others as described above.

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Dean Cris
5 years ago

Duran is so unprofessional; there are a zillion older gay men out there who’d die for that job. And they would be better qualified and do it better than this litigious, self absorbed “a-list” grndr guy did. I no longer admire him.

WeHoMikey
WeHoMikey
5 years ago

Steve Martin, I always love hearing your analysis of situations. This could be a great reality TV series!

George Duke
George Duke
5 years ago

Sounds like Duran always sexualizing everyone. He did it during gay pride years back when Villaragosa was Mayor in public. He is classless, immature and unfit to lead anything…always has been. Gross behavior. I hope the ends his career finally.

MisTBlu
MisTBlu
5 years ago

Does not the City of West Hollywood have a policy on sexual harassment? Contrary to a previous poster, sexual harassment is not limited to physical behavior, it also most definitely includes all of the things outlined in the suit. Why did Mr. Owens not report the behavior in accordance with the policy? Yes, it can be hard to risk a good paying job but a good sexual harassment policy should be a bar against retaliatory firings. It wouldn’t have mattered if Duran and Owens had sex a hundred times before or after he was hired. No means no. Creating a… Read more »

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
5 years ago

No matter how you look at it, it is simply not professional to show naked photos of your recent partners to an employee. Makes you wonder if Duran was asleep during the City’s sexual harassment trainings which are regularly held. Furthermore Duran is a member of the State Bar and as such must participate in sexual harassment training every three years. Duran had to know what he was doing was inappropriate. We all make mistakes but we expect a modicum of common sense from our elected officials. To proof his case, Owens will need access to Duran’s phone records, that… Read more »

Chris Sanger
Chris Sanger
5 years ago

This will be adjudicated in court, the proper forum, not the imperfect one of the comments section here. Duran reiterated his denial in a statement yesterday. And to me that Owens apparently never had any concerns raised before he was suspended for unrelated wrong doing is a strong indication that even more than usual someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty holds. I do think the deputy system is broken (similarly for D’Amico and Meister’s purely political payback and coordination hires) and Duran does set himself up for criticism for this hire in the first place. But it would look… Read more »

SaveWeho
SaveWeho
5 years ago

Please. Owens is milking this for every last cent and fabricating the truth. I dont think any of this was sexual harassment. So Duran talked about his sexual escapades or showed some nude pics to him. Obviously they had more of a friendship going on than a strict boss/employee. What gay guy hasn’t talked about other guys with friends? And I really find it difficult to believe he just sat there 2-3x a week being “forced” to listen to Duran’s sexual encounters. Any normal adult would either say “I dont want to hear about it” and walk out of the… Read more »

Guy Privaton (@guyprivaton)

heard this story on major news network yesterday
embarrassing for weho
Duran should consider the honorable exit

Woody McBreairty
Woody McBreairty
5 years ago

Don’t forget that it was Owens’ idea for the Big Belly solar trash cans around town. That alone is well worth his $150.000.00+ salary & any monetary settlement paid in his sexual harassment lawsuit.

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
5 years ago

How utterly titillating! And is the “spying” investigation still “ongoing”? Are the sheriffs still combing the third floor crime scene for hidden microphones? Meanwhile Fran Solomon has pretty much admitted that she may have illegally run Mr. Heilman’s campaign from city hall but we politely ignore that fact. On the bright side, now that the relationship has turned sour, there is one less person Mr. Duran will take to lunch on the city credit card.

Alison
Alison
5 years ago

Sexual harassment is sexual harassment. If he can prove it, more power to him. Whether he had sex with Duran before employment is totally irrelevant to the sexual harassment charges. No=No. I do, however, think both should resign immediately. Duran has been an embarrassment to the City for years.

@ Chris Sanger – Oh please, give me a break. You’ve made it quite clear you back Heilman in the election, but to think that Owens and Rex were out to get them is utterly ridiculous. He lost his last election because the PEOPLE wanted change.

Conrad
Conrad
5 years ago

I would be horrified if my parents or grandpa had to read about my Grindr activity parlayed into employment opportunities.

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