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Witness contradicts Garcetti in sexual harassment lawsuit

The former director of the Los Angeles nonprofit Mayor’s Fund said he heard Mayor Eric Garcetti be surprised that the city had not been prosecuted against his longtime aide Rick Jacobs, who is now charged of sexual harassment.

Jeremy Bernard, in a deposition in March, said he overheard Garcetti talking about Jacobs, the mayor’s former deputy chief of staff. Garcetti made a remark saying, “I can’t believe Rick trained at town hall and we got over him without trial,” Bernard testified.

“I don’t remember the exact words,” Bernard testified. “He made that comment. And I believe there was – to a couple – maybe there was a few of us that he said that to because I’ve heard it from others.

Bernard’s testimony contradicts what the mayor said in his testimony earlier this year. Garcetti was asked if he had made such a statement and the mayor replied no.

In the deposition, which was reviewed by The Times on Wednesday, Bernard said he did not see Jacobs act inappropriately in social settings or fundraising from around 2014 to 2018 – a period highlighted by the lawyers who took his testimony.

Bernard also did not hear city workers complain about Jacobs behavior, he said.

Matthew Garza, a Los Angeles police officer and Garcetti’s former bodyguard, sued the city last summer, alleging he was sexually harassed by Jacobs. The mayor witnessed some inappropriate behavior but did not stop it, according to Garza’s trial.

Jacobs and Garcetti both deny the allegations made against them.

Bernard was previously social secretary and special assistant to President Obama.

He testified that he first met Jacobs in the early 2000s. “I would say there was a time when he was one of my best friends,” Bernard said. He met Garcetti around 2006 and helped him introduce him to Sen. Obama, Bernard testified.

Bernard, during his testimony, was asked if Garcetti had commented on his surprise that Jacobs worked at town hall and that the town was not sued.

Bernard said he heard the mayor make the comment, but Garcetti did not explain what he meant by the remark.

He also said he was not sure where he heard Garcetti make the comment, but that it would have happened around 2017. He said he thought he had heard other people talk about Garcetti making the comment, but he couldn’t remember who they were.

“I just remember the conversation – and it’s kind of like Rick doesn’t get along very well with the people at Town Hall overall,” Bernard said.

Garcetti, in testimony taken during his testimony earlier this year, denied making such a statement.

“Have you ever said to someone, ‘I can’t believe Rick trained at town hall and we got away with no trial? “” Garza’s lawyers asked Garcetti during his testimony.

“No,” Garcetti replied. “I never said that to anyone, in public or in private.”

“I stand by my unequivocal testimony,” Garcetti said Wednesday, when asked about Bernard’s comments.

The mayor is expected to be appointed US Ambassador to India by President Biden.

Garza alleges in his lawsuit that Jacobs touched him inappropriately between 2014 and 2019 and made some rude comments.

Jacobs has denied harassing Garza and called his trial a “work of pure fiction.” Garcetti testified that he did not witness any inappropriate behavior from his former assistant.

Garza alleges that Jacobs would reach out for an alleged handshake, but then pull Garza towards him to give him a “long and tight hug,” while simultaneously saying, “I love myself my mighty LAPD officers” or something else. “Inappropriate comment”, according to the costume.

Bernard said he saw Jacobs luring people in for hugs after reaching out. “It was kind of his style. I haven’t given it much thought, ”said Bernard.

Bernard also said he did not know Garza and would not recognize him.

Bernard testified that he had not seen Jacobs kiss someone in a way that “stood out” as strange and that Jacobs had never touched him in a non-consensual way.

At another point, Bernard said, “I’m sure there might have been a point where he grabbed me and kissed me. Because we were close friends, I didn’t analyze it too much, I guess.

Bernard, who left the Mayor’s Fund in 2020, said he does not consider himself a friend of Jacobs today. He said Jacobs had helped him get the Mayor’s Fund job. He said he had not spoken to her since he was fired from the association.

Several other current and former Garcetti staff also filed depositions in the Garza trial. One of them testified that he had been the subject of unwanted contact from Jacobs. Others testified that they saw nothing inappropriate.

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