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LAUSD employee files sexual harassment claim

A Los Angeles Unified School District employee who has accused former Supt. Ramon C. Cortines of sexually harassing him is seeking more than $10 million from the district in connection with the alleged harassment and subsequent unraveling of a proposed settlement of the matter. 

Leasing and asset manager Scot Graham filed his claim against the nation’s second-largest school system June 8; the claim was released late Friday in response to a Times public-records request.

Cortines has denied harassing Graham but said he used poor judgment by engaging in spontaneous, consensual “adult behavior” with Graham at Cortines’ Kern County ranch in July 2010. Cortines, 80, retired in April, 2011.

In May, Graham, 56, agreed to a tentative settlement under which L.A. Unified would have paid him $200,000 and provided lifetime health benefits. Under it, Graham also was going to leave his $150,000-a-year job. But Graham refused to sign the pact after the school system publicly released its terms of the proposed agreement. Graham continues to work at L.A. Unified.

In his claim, Graham asserts that L.A. Unified violated his “right to privacy, placed him in a false light and defamed him by publicly disclosing his identity, the nature of his allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination, and the fact and terms of a settlement proposal, all in violation of LAUSD’s policies.”

The claim is submitted on a standard district form. In response to a question about the employees responsible for “injury or damage,” the claim cites Cortines and district general counsel David Holmquist.

The district has denied any wrongdoing, noting that it cannot, by law, keep settlements secret. The district also asserts that, early on, officials honored Graham’s request to take no action regarding the alleged incident between Graham and Cortines.

In addition to the claim, Graham sued Cortines personally last week, with a filing that contained graphic allegations of alleged unwanted encounters with Cortines.

The claim is signed by Arnold Peter, an attorney representing Graham. Claims against government entities are frequently precursors to a lawsuit.

-- Howard Blume

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