West Hollywood Pays Half Million Bucks To Settle Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

John Duran
John Duran

Here’s the thing about West Hollywood: Yes, it’s technically a “city.” But it’s plagued by the kind of small-town amateur-hour politics that seem more suited to the comment section of a YouTube video than the halls of government.

The latest nonsense: a sexual harassment lawsuit against a longtime City Council member was just settled for a half million dollars, according to our friends at WEHOville, which broke the story. Great job, WeHo.

A little backstory: Councilmember John Duran met a guy on Grindr named Ian Owens. They hooked up, and then Duran gave Owens a job at City Hall. At the time, WeHo had a deputy system where politicians could give out cushy jobs, and for some reason everyone hated everyone else. It was an insanely hostile environment where people were always either shouting at each other or refusing to speak to each other. Awesome.

Owens thought he overheard another deputy engaging in illegal electioneering, so he eavesdropped and took notes on her conversations. When he brought his complaints to Duran, he says, they were ignored and he was suspended. His claim is that he was punished for not being sexually available to Duran after getting the job. Duran and the city deny all that, and although an investigation said there was no evidence of sexual harassment, the settlement closes the book with no firm admission from either side.

Ian Owens and John Duran in happier times

Since then, the dumb deputy system has been eliminated, thanks to incoming City Council Member Lindsey Horvath, one of the only adults to serve on City Council in many years.

Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for the gay bars and brunch places and all-night-underwear shops — residents and tourists none the wiser about how the place is being run, and probably not caring.

Why are WeHo politics so backward? Because it’s really not a “city,” as it claims, but a small town that lucked out with some super-wealthy businesses — hotels and nightclubs, luxury boutiques, that sort of stuff.

So there’s a lot of money flying around, and a lot of talented artists, but a drought of political talent.