Three months ago, an LAPD officer who served on Mayor Eric Garcetti’s security detail sued the city, claiming that Garcetti’s longtime advisor Rick Jacobs repeatedly sexually harassed him, and that Garcetti saw some of it firsthand but didn’t stop it.
The story resurfaced earlier this week when journalist Yashar Ali detailed his personal experience with Rick Jacobs. Ali says between 2005 and 2015, he was the victim of unwanted sexual advances by Jacobs.
Now Jacobs is stepping back from his nonprofit work and his volunteer position in the mayor’s office. The city has hired a law firm to investigate the sexual misconduct claims.
Ali says he used to often meet Jacobs at events such as social and charitable functions, and that Jacobs acted inappropriately and forcibly kissed him on the lips.
“Rick [Jacobs] had a way of hugging people where you didn't have a choice whether to engage with him or not. And I remember him hugging me so tightly once that I felt like my teeth were going to break,“ Ali says.
He says he saw it as creepy, but he also admits that he never made his disinterest clear.
“One of the things that our culture does with respect to gay men is that there's a stereotype that we're more promiscuous, and that we don't care what kind of attention we get, as long as we get it,” Ali says. “I internalized that a little bit and didn't object to his doing this, even though I didn't want him to do it.”
It wasn’t until Ali started reporting about sexual misconduct during the #MeToo movement did he realize what he had experienced.
“I sort of dismissed it the same way that so many women — and I'm not comparing the two — but there are so many women [who] dismiss the experiences they go through, because you're conditioned to sort of think that way,” he says.
After learning about Officer Matthew Garza’s lawsuit, Ali says he texted Jacobs personally, asking about the allegations. Ali says Jacobs said none of the allegations were true and that they were fabricated.
Ali says he also reached out to Mayor Garcetti’s senior aides about his experiences, but nothing ever happened in response. Jacobs is a powerful figure in the mayor’s orbit, and is close with Garcetti’s wife, Amy Wakeland.
“He is incredibly influential,” Ali says. “And not just in matters of government, but also in politics. And all of the mayor's various charitable efforts. His hand is in every single pot in Garcetti's world."
Ali expects these allegations will hurt Garcetti politically.
“He has harmed himself by associating himself with Rick and refusing to step away. He had an opportunity in July to make a clean break,” Ali says. “Fox News is more aggressive, with respect to sexual misconduct, than the Democratic progressive mayor of Los Angeles.”
— Written by Danielle Chiriguayo and Amy Ta, produced by Brian Hardzinski