City Hall Says It Can’t Substantiate Other Allegations Against Mayor Duran

The City of West Hollywood has determined that an allegation that Mayor John Duran made sexually inappropriate comments in front of a city employee at an event in West Hollywood Park in October cannot be substantiated. 

Mike Gerle

In a letter to Mike Gerle, the city’s event services coordinator, who brought forth the allegation, WeHo’s Administrative Services Director Christof Schroeder also said the city couldn’t take action on Gerle’s allegation that Duran made sexually inappropriate comments to Gerle’s boyfriend at a National League of Cities Conference in Washington, D.C. Duran attended the conference in March, representing the City of West Hollywood. Gerle’s boyfriend is Dennis Gleason, policy director for L.A. City Councilmember Joe Joe Buscaino.

“Your complaints regarding a Grindr interaction did not involve an interaction with a City employee, and involved a private interaction,” Schroeder wrote in a letter to Gerle. “Additionally, the actions were not substantiated, and therefore are not sustained.”

Grindr messages between Mayor Duran and Dennis Gleason

The alleged incident at West Hollywood Park occurred during an event featuring Duran standing beneath a large “Trump Baby” balloon, declaring that West Hollywood is the “epicenter of the resistance” to Donald Trump. Gerle’s complaint was that Duran made a sexually inappropriate comment to a photographer at the event, suggesting that by laying on his back the photographer was showing his sexual proclivities. Gerle said he was encouraged by his supervisors to report the matter to the city’s Human Relations Division.

While Schroeder said Duran’s interactions with Gleason could not be substantiated, they were captured by Gleason in screenshots on his smart phone, which Gerle said he could show Schroeder. Those screen shots show Duran apparently reaching out to Gleason, who is in the same hotel. Gleason alerts Duran that they know one another and that he works for Councilmember Joe Buscaino. 

“Would Joe care if I borrowed you?” Duran asks, then suggests he’d like to see the view from Gleason’s nearby hotel room. Gleason responds by saying that he has a boyfriend, Gerle, at which point Duran says Gleason should disregard his flirt.  However, when Gleason notes that another young man is attending the event, Duran responds saying “I should have done an anonymous blow and go with you!” He then says “Blow jobs shouldn’t count. But Gerle would hate me.”

In an email message to City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, Gleason wrote “I felt very uncomfortable, and tried as politely as I could to extricate myself from the conversation. Eventually I just stopped responding to him entirely, yet he continued throughout the duration of the conference to message me with comments like ‘you’re in my hotel,’  ‘7 feet away!’ “

In a Dec. 5 email to Schroeder, Gerle said that, given the incidents, he felt uncomfortable being around Duran at city events such as Halloween Carnaval, where Duran appeared shirtless on stage.

“I am formally requesting that you keep me out of the same room with John Duran,” Gerle wrote. “I am requesting that you keep me off the same stage as John Duran. I am asking you to keep me out of any area where I will be required to interact with John Duran. Shirtless or in a suit, I do not want to interact with a man the City of West Hollywood feels obliged to protect even though he has a history of harassing men like me; like Ian Owens … .” 

In his letter rejected Gerle’s complaint, Schroder wrote that “While the allegation have not been sustained, Human Resources recommends continuing to limit your interaction with Mayor Duran, per your request, without diminishing your job responsibilities or opportunities for advancement.”

Comments by Mayor Duran in blue in Grindr text exchange.

Gleason told Horvath he was inspired to share his story by West Hollywood Public Safety Commissioner Robert Oliver’s demand at a commission meeting on Monday that Duran resign from the City Council. Oliver himself resigned from the Public Safety Commission when only one fellow commissioner, Amanda Laflen, spoke up to criticize Duran’s alleged misbehavior. That misbehavior included allegations by three young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, , published in the Los Angeles Times, that Duran either touched them or spoke to them in sexually inappropriate ways.  Duran, a lawyer who also chairs the GMCLA board, had denied the allegations.

In his message to Horvath, Gleason cited steps the City of Los Angeles has taken in the past and is taking now to deal with such issues.  In 1995, City Councilmember Nate Holden faced lawsuits alleging sexual harassment that Los Angeles paid more than $1 million to settle.  Los Angeles has since established a Special Committee on Investigative Oversight, which has investigated allegations of harassment and retaliation against Councilmember Jose Huizar. Mayor Eric Garcetti also has created MyVoiceLA, a website where staffers, city commissioners and others can report workplace bias, retaliation and sexual harassment.

WEHOville has reached out to Duran for comments on the allegation, however he has not responded to multiple inquiries.

  1. And people wonder why victims don’t come forward it’s all of you. You were all screaming when people are accusing Republicans but now due process should happen.
    The investigator is on there payroll he will say what they tell him to, the same way they hired an Ellison donor to clear him. As a sexual assault survivor thanks for letting me know my rape only matters if there was an R beside my rapists name. Not that I expect much from people who spent all whole decade normalizing abuse and victim blaming my propping of the Clinton’s evil alt right conspiracy theory.

  2. The conference interactions captured in the screenshots are a big, juicy nothingburger. There is absolutely nothing inappropriate about that Grindr exchange. Anyone trying to suggest otherwise is either dysfunctionally hypersensitive or they have an axe to grind. Re: the park incident, the city found that the allegation could not be substantiated—unless someone has information or evidence that could change that finding, we should all accept it and move on.

    Re: this constant boo-hooing about John Duran’s behavior, there is a simple solution: If the residents of WeHo disapprove of John Duran for any reason, they should take the trouble of voting him out.

    1. He will undoubtedly be voted out.

      Unfortunately until then he will continue sticking his junk in everyone’s face until he is marginalized. There are many ways to accomplish that mindfully and legally.


      1. I haven’t seen any report anywhere of John Duran “sticking his junk” in anyone’s face: Link? Maybe he did–I don’t know.

        Or, if you just made that up as some kind of sassy euphemism: Apology?

        Like I said, vote him out if you don’t want him representing you or the city. Disengage from all things Duran if that’s what you want to do. But blurting out these kinds of statements are unproductive at best.

    2. While I totally agree with you on the right of voters to elect a replacement when his term is up, I can’t help but think that the endless stream of anti-Duran content on this site which has been going on for as long as I can remember reflects a clear bias against our current mayor. The consequence of this one-sided negative portrayal of the man unfairly sways opinions against against him while ignoring his years of volunteerism & public service (even if you disagree with his opinions)

  3. It’s time for Duran to step down, his behavior isn’t respected in this city anymore.
    This is a pattern that has costs the city money and its reputation in national newspapers.We’re a city that may be a “sex city” for some people but at the end of the day it’s a home with respectable people who want their friends and family to feel safe and proud to be here.

    That said, I think the Grindr screenshots are inappropriate to publish since it’s not a “public forum” like a public facebook/twitter account. It’s meant to be a private forum.

    Some of the city officials seems to be hypocrites. Hypercritical of a president Trump whose trying to appropriately balance out the power of nationalism vs. globalism. He’s harshly scrutinized but when a Democrat does something (Ed, Duran, etc.) they all of a sudden don’t get the same scrutiny.

  4. It’s comical to protest “But I have a boyfriend” when being hit up on Grindr. Um, I’m assuming your boyfriend knows you use Grindr so…what are you expecting?

    Boyfriend or no boyfriend, once Duran learned the guy he was hitting on was a colleague, Duran should have exited the conversation. But being Duran, drunk on power, he keeps pestering the dude even after the guy indicates he isn’t interested. More predictable inappropriate, unprofessional vulgarity from the embarrassing cesspool of West Hollywood politics.

    The bigger embarrassment are Duran voters, who have kept supporting him despite ample evidence for years that he is utter trash.

  5. Political correctness or boys on hook up sites will be boys.
    I suggest, since Grindrr started in 2009, they should require users to update their profile photos at least every decade, just saying…

  6. Um, why is the guy so offended if he’s on Grindr? And why would he say, leave me alone, I have a boyfriend? Am I missing something here? I am not a fan of Duran’s ways, but why was the other guy on there?

    1. I totally agree with you here. While I am nor on Grindr for hookups, many are and such behavior is par for the course. While unfortunate in my mind, the fact that he is using the app while in a relationship implies that he is either looking to cheat on his BF or that the two of them have an open relationship.

  7. So the tax payers foot the bill for travel to Washington DC so the Mayor can find playmates in a new playground. Normally the off time at League of Cities is spend net working with other elected officials.

    While the City Council cannot force the Mayor to resign, it can eliminate his travel budget, particularly when the Council can find that he may create liability for the City with the recreational activities. At minimum the Council should ban Duran from travel on the tax payers’ dime for the remainder of his term. A similar ban was placed on Jeff Prang after the “Portland Groping Incident” in 1999. Given the embarrassment Duran has caused West Hollywood we don’t want him traveling to represent our City. If the City is going to pay for his travel it should only be a one way ticket out of town.

    Steve Martin

    1. So you are expecting someone on a business trip to spend every waking hour on city business? I must say that’s a pretty ridiculous expectation. He is not a slave to our city just because it is footing the bill. In fact, such a requirement would be a violation of labor laws. How Duran spends his down time while on a business trip is his choice & his business, even if you find it offensive.

  8. Vile. And what’s more vile is the way The City responded to a serious situation like this. What’s a City’s tefloning plan? HR/management contact an attorney who tells them to distance themselves from the suffering employee and to not do/say anything that might actually appear to acknowledge that unethical/harassing/discriminatory behavior actually took place? Dehumanize and de-legitimize victims by forcing them to just keep working as if nothing happened?

  9. I have written multiple times on this ongoing saga, as recently as today with my opinion piece. This article, however, attempts to tell two stories, only one of which is relevant. Mr. Gerle’s complaint regarding activity at a city-sponsored event in West Hollywood Park is one that deserves attention. As far as I can tell from what is presented in the screen shots in this article, the private adult exchanges on Grindr with Mr. Gleason do not rise to the level of inappropriate, especially for that venue. No reasonable person would find that the exchange presented here by the boyfriend of a city employee (who also has/had a husband at the time) on a hookup site is something for which an HR department has any professional responsibility. Now, that park issue…

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