Journalist Yashar Ali accused Rick Jacobs (pictured above), a top adviser to Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, of sexual misconduct Monday, leading Jacobs to announce on Tuesday that he was taking a leave of absence.
Ali outlined his allegations in a post on his website. He is the second person to accuse Jacobs of misconduct. LAPD officer Matthew Garza, who worked on Garcetti’s security detail, said Jacobs assaulted and harassed him. Like Ali, Garza said Garcetti witnessed some of the alleged misconduct (Garza filed a lawsuit against the city over the summer).
“The allegations laid out in Garza’s complaint sounded familiar to me because, over the course of a decade, from 2005 through 2015, Jacobs used to forcibly kiss me on the lips when I encountered him through my previous work in politics,” Ali wrote of Jacobs, who formerly served as the mayor’s deputy chief of staff and is still held in high regard four years after leaving his city post.
The freelance journalist said he took his account to Garcetti’s office after Garza filed his suit, but in three months since then, it remains unclear whether an investigation was made. Ali added that he’s discovered others who have had similar interactions with Jacobs.
On Tuesday night, Jacobs released a statement saying, “For the past 17 years, I have dedicated myself to advocacy and public service. I do not want this to be a distraction. Therefore, I will take a leave from my non-profit work and my volunteer political work with the Mayor.”
Garcetti added in a separate statement, “I take seriously all allegations of harassment. Rick Jacobs has stepped away from his non-profit and volunteer political work.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the mayor’s office told Ali, “The Mayor has zero tolerance for sexual harassment and all staffers are empowered to report problems to the Personnel Department. In 2018 the Mayor created the myvoicela.org portal to enable current and former City employees, elected officials, commissioners, and individuals who do business with the City to report harassment and discrimination. Complaints can be filed anonymously, by phone, fax, mail, online, and in-person to the Personnel Department.”
Ali noted in his story, which included his reporting that others say they’ve been forcibly kissed by Jacobs, “I never want to put myself in the middle of a story, but in this case, I’ve been left with no choice. Several prominent news outlets have slow-walked this story. I also ethically can’t report out this news without revealing that I have been a victim of Jacobs’ misconduct as well.”
3. The reason the allegations in the lawsuit sounded familiar to me was because Rick Jacobs used to forcibly kiss me when I worked in politics. After the lawsuit was filed in July and Jacobs denied the allegations I confronted him in a text message. https://t.co/icvQYPOmzl pic.twitter.com/MxItg8Zucq
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) October 20, 2020