Update Feb. 16, 2:16 pm: Mayor John Duran has said he checked into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Wednesday for examination of a possible blood clot. Duran said he has a history of such clots, which can cause a heart attack.
That’s the message West Hollywood Mayor John Duran has conveyed on his Facebook page in response to a wave of demands that he leave the City Council or at least step down as mayor.
Duran acknowledged that there have been three allegations by young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, whose board he has long chaired, that he made sexually inappropriate comments to them or touched them inappropriately. He has denied all of the allegations. He did not address other allegations previously reported on WEHOville and those posted in comments on Facebook that he used his role as mayor of West Hollywood to solicit sex on Grindr, the gay hookup app.
“There has been one formal claim made against me in 20 years with the Chorus,” Duran wrote. “An independent investigator was hired. He interviewed both parties and the 5 alibi witnesses who were with me that evening. And the witnesses all concurred that nothing unusual happened in the dressing room while they were with me. So, the claim was found to be unsubstantiated and the case was closed.
“The second complaint was from somebody who says I made an offensive crude comment to him in 2015 – FOUR YEARS AGO! I don’t remember the stupid insensitive things that I said four weeks ago. But I did apologize to him four years ago (he admits that is true) and hadn’t thought about it much since then.
“The third complaint has not been formally lodged with GMCLA yet. The first I heard of it was when I read the LA Times story last week. I have asked the board to hire another investigator to look at the claim EVEN THOUGH neither of us work for the chorus and it is NOT a workplace issue.”
“So, will I resign? Those of you who know me – well know the answer. HELL NO. I have stared down the KKK, the White Aryan Resistance, right wing judges and Presidents. I am not beholden to any blog or media storm. And being sexual does not equal sexual harassment. No means NO! But you gotta say ‘no!’ first. I hope that West Hollywood never loses its edge, its sexual appetite, its flirtatiousness, its sexy people, its nightclubs and children of the night.”
Before the most recent allegations emerged, Duran had often come under public and private criticism for his sexual behavior. Young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, for example, have told WEHOville that they warn one another to steer clear of Duran. At a City Council meeting, fellow Councilmember John D’Amico called Duran out for cruising for sex on Grindr on his mobile phone during a Council meeting. The City of West Hollywood in 2016 paid $500,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Duran’s City Hall deputy, Ian Owens, in which Owens alleged his boss made inappropriate sexual comments and asked him to update his address book with images and comments about me with whom he had sex.
Duran denied the allegations, although he admitted meeting Owens on Grindr and having sex with him before hiring him. An independent investigator hired by the City of West Hollywood determined there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support Owens’ claims. However, the investigator did note that there was evidence that Duran made inappropriate comments in front of employee while at City Hall.
Three members of the City Council – John D’Amico, Lindsey Horvath and Lauren Meister – all of who are running for re-election, have said Duran should step down as mayor. The Council is likely to take a minor step in that direction on Tuesday, when its meeting agenda includes an item that will rescind its decision on Feb. 4 to extend Duran’s 12-month term of mayor, which typically would have expired with the installation of a successor on May 20. The extension, part of an effort to realign the city’s election cycle with the state general election cycle, allowed Duran to continue as mayor until Sept. 16. The item is on the Council’s consent agenda, which means it will automatically be adopted without debate unless a Council member asks that it be moved to the regular agenda for discussion.
The City Council does not have the authority to remove Duran from office. It could, however, take other steps such as voting to condemn his alleged sexual misbehavior and voting to eliminate his travel budget, which he has used to attend events such as South by Southwest in Austin, Tex., and conferences of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, whose board he chairs.
Duran’s pushback against those asking him to step down as mayor or leave the City Council altogether has gotten support on Facebook from some of his appointments to local board and commissions. They include Misti Cooper, and Yawar Charlie. He also has gotten positive coverage of the allegations from Karen Ocamb, a writer for the L.A. Blade who is a long-time friend of Duran’s and whose stories cast doubt on the allegations against him.