Three of West Hollywood's five council
members have called on John Duran, the city's openly gay mayor, to
resign amid new allegations of sexual harassment.
The allegations from members of the Gay
Men's Chorus of Los Angeles come several years after the city paid
$500,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Duran's
former council deputy. Duran met his future employee years earlier
on Grindr, a dating app for gay and bisexual men, and the men had a
sexual encounter. Despite the 2016 settlement, Duran won reelection.
Duran served as board chairman of the
Gay Men's Chorus until earlier this month. Three current or former
members have accused Duran of sexual misconduct. Two say that he
slipped his hand or fingers inside their waistbands, while another
accuses Duran of inappropriate comments.
Duran, 59, has denied the claims and
has refused to step down.
“There's a culture clash going on.
If somebody expresses himself or herself sexually, that doesn't make
it harassment, per se,” Duran is quoted as saying by The
Los Angeles Times.
“People are thinking that anything
sexual is harassment because somebody feels it is unwelcome, but you
have to open your mouth and say, ‘No, I don’t want this.’ …
Otherwise, how are any of us able to navigate the sexual politics of
2019? I just think there are bigger, more complex issues at play,
that everyone needs to take a timeout and slow down. It can’t be
accusation equals guilt.”
In a Facebook post, Duran said: “So,
will I resign? … HELL NO.”
Duran's title as mayor is largely
ceremonial. City council members serve a one-year term every five
years. Duran is serving his fourth term as mayor.
Speaking with the WeHo Times,
Duran dismissed the complaints, describing one of the men as “not
credible” because “he's a skinny Korean kid with pimples on his
“Look at this guy,” Duran said.
“It's just not happening.”
Estevan Montemayor, president of the
board for Christopher Street West, an LGBT non-profit, described
Duran's defense as “very Trumpian.”
“He has dismissed his accusers
because of the way they look and who they are,” he
said. “It's the same tactic. It is deplorable.”
A protest calling for Duran's ouster is
planned for Tuesday.