As expected, LAUSD employee Scot Graham filed his third lawsuit against Superintendent Ramon Cortines on Wednesday, alleging that the 82-year-old schools chief sexually assaulted Graham in 2010, and that when he complained, the school district took no action.
Graham filed his first lawsuit against LAUSD and Cortines in 2012. At the time, Cortines admitted he'd had a sexual relationship with Graham but said it was consensual. A judge threw out the lawsuit on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired. Another suit was later withdrawn by Graham. Last year, Cortines was rehired as schools superintendent for a third time, on an interim basis, following the resignation of John Deasy.
Soon after, Graham started threatening a new lawsuit.
The original lawsuit was raunchy enough, claiming, among other things, that Cortines invited Graham up to his ranch in the Sierra Mountains, crawled into bed with Graham and masturbated while Graham cringed in horror.
The new suit goes a step further, painting Cortines as power-mad and sexually obsessed.
It alleges that Cortines attacked former LAUSD School Board President Monica Garcia as a "fat slovenly lesbian with no concept of how power is wielded," constantly objectified other LAUSD employees by calling them things like a "hot piece of ass," and in particular wanted to sleep with none other than the man forced to deal with this mess, LAUSD General Counsel Dave Holmquist.
"The details included in this complaint are intended to do nothing more than generate sensational headlines, and needlessly subject current and former leaders at the district to baseless personal attacks," Holmquist said in a statement.
The suit attempts to paint the whole culture of LAUSD management, not exactly exciting even on a good day, as a sexually charged environment full of affairs. It insists that Graham had to find an apartment for the "long-term mistress" of Roy Romer, the affable silver-haired superintendent who took over after Cortines' first tenure in 2001.
Those allegations, of course, should be taken with more than a grain of salt.
"It doesn’t sound like a lawsuit, it sounds like a six-part miniseries!" quipped attorney Pierce O'Donnell, who represents Shelly Sterling (and who is unconnected to the Graham/Cortines case).
O'Donnell speculates that, perhaps, the wild charges are intended to force an early settlement, which clearly hasn't materialized yet.
Rob Hennig, Graham's attorney, denies this.
"We’re trying to provide context," he says. "It's what makes the return of Ramon Cortines to L.A. Unified all the more egregious."
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Hennig insists that the allegations are newly relevant because of the rehiring of Cortines.
"The fact of the matter is Cortines returned to L.A. Unified in October of 2014, and to this day, L.A. Unified and the school board have failed to conduct an independent, fair and prompt investigation of Mr. Graham’s complaints about Mr. Cortines," Hennig says. "They rehired someone without any attempt of due diligence to find out what he had done with Scot Graham."
Holmquist disagrees, saying in his statement: "These matters have already been adjudicated by the court in favor of the school district and Mr. Cortines in two separate lawsuits. This is simply a frivolous refiling of the same allegations."
Graham, by the way, still works at LAUSD headquarters. Just a floor below Cortines.