WEST HOLLYWOOD—Former West Hollywood Mayor John J. Duran was formally censured Monday, April 1 at the West Hollywood City Council meeting for his public comments in response to allegations of inappropriate behavior. The resolution passed unanimously without any discussion taking place on the issue including Duran who had the right to contest the resolution.
The censure resolution revealed the reason Duran was censured and states Duran’s public comments conflicted with the city of West Hollywood polices and values.
The comments include derogatory remarks about the ethnicity and physical appearance of his accusers who he attempted to publicly shame. When accused of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior with young members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, Duran denied it and explained he wouldn’t touch “a skinny Korean kid with pimples on his cheek.”
Another statement by Duran cited suggesting that there is a different standard of appropriate workplace behavior for gay men where Duran described West Hollywood as a “sex-based city.”
The final reasoning was Duran trivializing an alleged misconduct with a former employee that resulted in former council deputy Ian Owens winning a $500,000 settlement against West Hollywood three years ago. He admitted to having sex with Owen after meeting him on the gay meet-up app Grindr, but not after he was hired.
Owen’s suit alleged Duran made sexual advances and comments “well over 100 times.” City Attorney Mike Jenkins said an independent investigation of the matter commissioned by the city found no evidence that Duran engaged in sexual harassment.
Duran was reelected after the scandal, but resigned from his position as Mayor of West Hollywood on March 4. He cited health issues where he was hospitalized with blood clots as the reason for stepping fown from his position. He sent an statement from the hospital to The Washington Blade, A LGBT newspaper, to apologize.
“I am always quick with a punch line or a joke,” said Duran. “Humor is my defense mechanism. I often say things that some people say are off color, ridiculous, racy or bawdy. People laugh or stammer. Some cringe. Some wish I wouldn’t. But it is who I am and when I say something improper—I am always quick to apologize if I went too far.
The comment I made about an Asian-American man who made accusations against me recently in the Los Angeles Times, was not meant to single out his race. It was a rude and hurtful comment about someone’s appearance and for that I owe him and the community an apology.”
Duran denied all other allegations noting “I flirt. I crack dirty jokes. I often say things that make some cringe. But I do not threaten or physically assault anyone. Not ever. It is not in my DNA. I will own my human flaws for being and saying inappropriate things. But I will never admit conduct that never occurred. That would be dishonest and done for expediency rather than truth. Unfortunately, people are now piling on a false narrative that is untrue, misunderstood, and driven by the current mood of the country rather than the rule of law and due process.”
Jenkins, who drafted the censure resolution, refused to comment to the Canyon News regarding the city council’s actions. Jenkins, along with Councilmember John Heilman, initially opposed the draft that was voted during the City Council’s meeting. Heilman cited controversy would be created by the council’s discussion of the resolution. The West Hollywood City Council voted during the meeting to deny Duran of 1 year in travel expenses, while conducting city business and no reimbursement for city-related expenses.
Canyon News attempted to reach out to councilmembers John Duran and John Heilman, but did not receive a response before print.
Duran remains a member of the West Hollywood City Council and will not resign until his term expires in November 2020. He has been an elected member of the City Council since 2001 and was identified as one of the 20 most influential members of the gay community by IN LA Magazine.