A senior adviser to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has “stepped away” from that role following new allegations that he forcibly kissed well-known freelance journalist Yashar Ali.
Garcetti and his accused adviser, Rick Jacobs, both announced the move in separate Tuesday night statements after Ali lodged the allegations in a Monday newsletter post.
“For the past seventeen years, I have dedicated myself to advocacy and public service. I do not want this to be a distraction,” Jacobs said.
“Therefore, I will take a leave from my non-profit work and my volunteer political work with the Mayor,” he said.
Ali, whose work has appeared in New York Magazine and the Huffington Post, said the alleged sexual misconduct by Jacobs happened between 2005 and 2015 when he attended at least a half-dozen dinners at Jacobs’ home.
“The incidents where Jacobs would forcibly kiss me always happened in front of others and at political and social functions,” Ali wrote in the first-person piece. “Jacobs would grab my face and kiss me on the lips — always twice — and he would turn to other people who witnessed it and say, ‘He has the softest lips.’”
Garcetti, in his own statement, said, “I take seriously all allegations of harassment.” The mayor added that Jacobs “has stepped away from his non-profit and volunteer political work.”
Jacobs sits on the board of directors of the nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, which raises money for Garcetti-supported causes.
Before acting as Garcetti’s adviser, he had served as the mayor’s deputy chief of staff and executive vice mayor.
Ali, who also worked as current California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s deputy chief of staff when Newsom was the San Francisco mayor, is the second person to accuse Jacobs of sexual misconduct.
In July, Matthew Garza, a former Los Angeles police officer, filed suit against the city, claiming Jacobs sexually harassed him for years while working on the mayor’s security detail.