Alleged Sexual Misconduct and Financial Issues Expected to Surface at GMCLA’s Monday Meeting

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles will hold a meeting for members and staff on Monday night where allegations of sexual misconduct by its executive director, Jonathan Weedman, and its board chairman, West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, are likely to surface along with concerns about the non-profit organization’s financial situation.

Accusations surfaced last year that Weedman, who is 59, had forced a then-20-year-old chorus member to perform oral sex on him in December 2017. This year Duran was accused of inappropriately pushing his fingers into the waistband of the underwear of another young chorus member at a GMCLA performance at the Alex Theatre in Glendale in October.

Both Weedman and Duran have denied the claims. “All I can say about it is I did not do anything wrong and I absolutely deny these allegations,” Weedman told WEHOville. “They are not true.” Duran said he did not know and has never seen his accuser.

The allegation of sexual abuse by Weedman came to WEHOville’s attention when, over several months last year, an anonymous person mailed letters and a postcard accusing GMCLA’s leadership and board of directors of ignoring the alleged incident. WEHOville then reached out to board members to ask about the incident and learned that those it contacted had not heard about it. Someone with knowledge of the situation has told WEHOville that its questioning of board members resulted in pressure on Duran, who was aware of the allegation, to launch an investigation. Duran, however, says an investigation was launched within a week after GMCLA was informed of the alleged incident.

Jonathan Weedman (GMCLA)

“Our counsel for the board of directors interviewed both parties that same week,” Duran said in a text to WEHOville . “Because the event did not occur at a GMCLA event or office, he concluded that it was not an issue for GMCLA. If it was a crime, it was for police and DA (district attorney) not a non-profit.”

“And he concluded that even if the accuser’s claim was 100% true, it would be two consenting adults in a private home. Not our business.”

Duran said the board decided anyway to hire private investigator Steve Rodig of RCS Investigations and Consulting, a former Anaheim police officer, to look into the allegation. Rodig had been hired by the City of West Hollywood in 2016 to investigate allegations that Duran had sexually harassed his then-deputy, Ian Owens, who he had hired after meeting him on the Grindr gay hookup site and having sex with him. Rodig found “insufficient evidence” to support Owens’s claim that he had been sexually harassed by Duran while on the job.

However, Rodig’s report said “that John Duran did engage in making sexually related comments in the workplace, which were unprofessional and generally violated West Hollywood Administrative Regulations pertaining to harassment. While there may have been no specific intent to do so, Duran’s behavior generally contributed to creating a less than professional working environment at the City of West Hollywood.” The City of West Hollywood paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit that Owens brought against the city and Duran.

A person involved with GMCLA and with intimate knowledge of the incident, who asked not to be identified for fear of being thrown out of the organization, told WEHOville that Rodig began to interview Weedman and the young man he allegedly abused in June 2018, seven months after the incident is said to have occurred. Rodig is said to have delivered his finding to Duran in July. However Duran said the Rodig report was presented to board counsel Michael Graham and that he didn’t see it until it was presented to the full board.

Duran said the allegations weren’t shared with members of the chorus because they are volunteers or employees. Given that it is a human resources issue, he said GMCLA still can’t share details of the Rodig report.

John Duran (Facebook)

The incident is alleged to have occurred at Weedman’s house in Pasadena. The young man, in need of a job at the time, was hired by Weedman to come to his home and help him box up materials while Weedman’s husband, Raymundo Baltazar, was on a trip to Mexico. While there, Weedman is said to have forced the young man to perform oral sex on him. However, it also has been said that the Weedman performed oral sex on the young man.

Close friends of the young man said he become deeply depressed over the following month and that after pressing him to discuss what was going on, he told them about the incident. A former member of GMCLA learned about the allegation from those friends and reportedly contacted Duran early last year.

WEHOville has identified the young man, who has said he doesn’t want to make any public statements that could harm GMCLA, an organization that he says he is proud to be a member of, and that he has no intention of suing the organization. He remains a member of GMCLA.

Rodig concluded his investigation by stating that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support the young man’s allegation of sexual abuse. His report was presented to GMCLA’s board of directors and its executive committee.

Duran’s allegedly inappropriate touching occurred in October of last year when GMCLA was joined by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Mexico City for a performance at the Alex Theatre in Glendale that opened its 40th season. The incident was said to have occurred while members of the chorus were dressing themselves in tuxedos for the performance. Duran has denied the allegation, noting that the alleged incident took place in a room full of 150 people. A half dozen of those near Duran said they did not see the alleged incident take place. Duran said he asked to meet with the young man, who was a part-time GMCLA employee, but that he declined to meet Duran and resigned from GMCLA.

A private investigator also was hired to investigate that alleged incident. In a report to board Vice Chair Steve Holzer and Weedman, the investigator said he could find no one who witnessed the incident to validate the claim.

As to its finances, a review of GMCLA’s IRS tax returns shows that revenue, which had been growing steadily over the past five years, in 2017 fell 21% to $1.36 million. It was in January of that year that GMCLA hired Weedman, former senior vice president of the Wells Fargo Foundation, for the executive director’s job. GMCLA also saw a 7.5% reduction in expenses in 2017. But with the decline in revenue, that still left the organization with a loss of $227,000. GMCLA’s IRS 2018 tax return is not yet available.

Duran’s leadership of GMCLA has helped it attract donations from companies that do business or seek to do business with the City of West Hollywood. Among the large donors have been Athens Services, the trash pickup company; Wells Fargo, the city’s bank; and Combined Properties, the real estate developer. In recent months, while a city-appointed independent group evaluated applications for cannabis retail licenses, several cannabis retailers also began contributing to GMCLA.

The GMCLA meeting on Monday night is at First Congregational Church at 540 S. Commonwealth Ave. in Los Angeles and is open only to its members, directors and officers. GMCLA was founded in July 1979 at West Hollywood’s Plummer Park Community Center by a group of 99 gay men from across Los Angeles County. It still is based in West Hollywood, with its current headquarters in the Hustler building on Sunset Boulevard.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include additional information from John Duran about GMCLA’s handling of the alleged incidents.

  1. Not this time , Duran, it IS GMCLA’s problem . That young man was scouted in the chorus , worked in the office , at Weedman’s pleasure, and at Weedman’s home directly and each time Weedman was the man with power and lead that young man on to believe that he could “help him out.” Even if that meant sitting in the office keeping Weedman company . Don’t split hairs! Take responsibility for your “ boys will be boys” attitude ! Weedman prayed upon a young man ! Duran, you’ve become the creepy old gay .

    1. Duran has always been creepy. In every area he roams, Duran’s MO is to slither around the edges. When have criminal defense attorneys ever been considered pillars of their communities?

      West Hollywood has been sued as a result of Duran’s uninformed and incorrect council vote that was not relevant to the Ian Owens shameful debacle. The public record should show that particular tab. Duran is a liability to the citizens of West Hollywood and the city itself.

    2. Duran’s seemingly ethically challenged relationship regarding Wells Fargo also comes under the Creepy heading.

      Shame on us, the resident voters that allow this individual to cast a shadow on West Hollywood. Now is the time to tee up a consciousness and/or an individual to eliminate this blight.

  2. J. Duran is definitely out of the closet but his skeletons are being forced in… Since they have been covered, hidden, paid for, and most of all, ignored for quite some time. Being gay these days is a privilege but being an abusive gay has no place. He’s been way too lucky. If anyone has a secret on him, please spill the beans. There’s no way power should be contained if the truth is not put to use. It’s very clear that Duran feels powerful if companies have to “donate” to his (gay chorus) cause to at least believe they have a shot at keeping/doing business in West Hollywood. Are young individuals forced to play his game too???

  3. Maybe this young guy, James Duke Mason, is the “new blood” the City of West Hollywood needs? Worth a try.

    1. Duke’s a great guy. Few nicer. He is being pushed by J Heilman to replace Laura Meister. We don’t need a rubber stamp. Ivy Bottini endorsed Sepi Shyne. I have been to both public forums and I think she’s the one to be the upset. I’m being sexist but after all these years it would be nice to have a majority of women on the board. If Duke wants to do a real public service he will again offer himself as an alternative to Duran in 2020. I hope he does.
      The secret is absentee voters. Early voters. The Heilman/Duran camp has the system nailed down. 2500 votes is a win. Out of 36,000.

  4. Did anyone else catch that? That Ian Matthew Owens, after Duran and the City were basically cleared of any wrongdoing, got a legal “settlement” of $500,000? What the hell? Settling for what? How many people reading this have been in the working world for probably DECADES and don’t have $500,000 yet saved in their 401-k plan, and this (still VERY young) man gets THAT kind of money, instantly, even in the wake of findings of “no” wrongdoing?? If there was an investigation that found “no wrongdoing”, WTF is the City giving him $500,000 for? Because he’s cute, and needs money just to validate his appearance privilege, because, after all, it’s West Hollywood, and being cute is, in addition to everything else, so damn lucrative? Come on. I don’t EVER want to hear again that the City of West Hollywood “doesn’t have the money” for crosswalk safety, more free or low-cost parking spaces, more foot patrols for Sheriff Deputies, arts programs, homeless programs, and lower parking meter fees/hours, because if they have $500,000 to give to Owens for “no wrongdoing”, then let’s face it, they have money to BURN. If there was no wrongdoing, all they should have given him was a consolation prize t-shirt: “I Sued the City of West Hollywood and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt”. Now, that would have been justice! That $500,000 serves as nothing but a welcome mat for ever more would-be Eve Harringtons to step up and get hired at one (inflated) salary, but end up walking away with much, much more of City of West Hollywood taxpayer money with just a few clever and seductive machinations. Nice work if you can get it. Too bad young LGBT people are having to move out of West Hollywood because it’s so expensive. If they all just sued the City, they could all live within walking distance of the bars and have one of the overpriced apartments or condos that unrestrained developers in West Hollywood are so famous for. What a win-win situation all around. It certainly does pay to be pretty. The Creative City? Creative at shake-downs, apparently.

    1. John Duran was not “cleared” of any wrong doing. That was only the opinion of a private detective hired by WEHO & Duran. The same guy who is doing the investigation for the choir. The case never went to trial.

      WEHO paid because the last thing the City wanted was the lawsuil to be settled in court with the possibility of damaging evidence against Duran and the city laid out before the media and the jury. And that jury could have awarded a lot more money than a half a million after the sleazy Grindr background was presented on how Ian got the job.

      Any other politician, Republican or Democrat, would have resigned. John Duran will never resign. Because WEHO is the enabler for John Duran.

    2. I totally agree, but I think it was the insurance company who paid the settlement, not WeHo. I may be wrong about that.

      1. The insurance company paid the settlement. Do you think they’re still offering the policy at that price with John Duran in office? Trolling on Grindr. And the possibility it could happen again? One thing we know, the insurance cost went up.

  5. Hoping that our friends at #GMCLA make it through this, that light shines on the darkness and vanquishes it, and that their organization thrives as a result. There is no place for any of this kind of non sense in our singing groups and, as I stated earlier this year, Gay Men’s Choruses around the nation and the world need to evolve into Queer oriented organizations, welcoming and inclusive of all people under the protection of the Queer umbrella.

    blasianFMA from NYCGMC
    (this statement is my own)

  6. The meeting is tomorrow night at 7 but not at Plummer Park but at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. Please update.

  7. John Duran has embarrassed the city of West Hollywood – & the gay community – much more than Valerie Terrigno ever did.

    1. Anyone who are in the West Hollywood City Government, the elected officials, who support Mayor John Duran need to be voted out of office.

      This includes Meister, Horvath and DAmico.

      And it also includes those running for the WEHO City Council. Duke Mason, etc.

      Mayor John Duran becomes the focus of the election. We needed this. Because there was nothing else to focus on except the total corruption in WEHO which has been initiated by Mayor John Duran and his pay for play policies.

      So Mayor John Durand is now the issue and anyone on the WEHO City Council who supports Duran is now the enemy for concerned citizens in West Hollywood.

      It’s time for John Duran to resign ASAP

      1. Mr. Duran has embarrassed the city because of his trump-sized ego one too many times. Sadly, in a city where approximately 25% of people bother to show up to the polls, it takes approximately 10% of registered voters to “win” a council seat. I can’t pin the blame entirely on his ego, but must point to the voter apathy that makes him a topic of political chatter beyond his numerical irrelevancy. Vote, people!

      2. I think we need to distinguish between the ability of any member to work collaboratively with others, and support by way of endorsements. In the latter, it should be noted that Ms. Meister did not, in fact, endorse Mr. Duran in 2017. I applaud her for her independence, diligence and obvious hard work in being prepared.

  8. This opens many questions, some expanding on previous behavior. It saddens me for the hundreds of men who have devoted their talents to this organization. I hope they will find a way to move forward and continue to be a diamond in the LA arts scene, despite the piggish and boorish behavior of some in leadership.

  9. The private investigator who was hired by the city of west hollywood during the ian owens mess is the same private investigator hired by the gay mens chorus after John Duran is accused again. Smells very fishy and perhaps the city should open a second investigation with an independent investigator. It is high time for John Duran to do his public service without a seat on the West Hollywood city council.

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