Mayor of West Hollywood John Duran is facing accusations of sexual misconduct from three members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.
The city lawmaker, who also serves as board chairman of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, is facing accusations of sexual harassment from current and former members of the group.
Mayor accused of ‘inappropriate touching’ towards Gay Men’s Chorus members
Jason Tong, a former member of the chorus, alleges Duran slipped his hand inside the waistband of his underwear prior to a show in a “traumatic and shocking experience.”
Tong left the chorus after the incident, and hit out at leaders who “supported somebody who wielded power rather than somebody who is vulnerable and needs community.”
Chorus member Brian Phillip Nichoalds also alleged slipped his hand inside his waistband, while a third man, former chorus member Joey Firoben, alleged that Duran made inappropriate comments towards him.
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Firoben, who alleges he was also groped by a different chorus member, quit after no action was taken.
He added: “I flat-out told them that I can’t support the organisation anymore because there is too much sexual misconduct, particularly from leaders.”
Duran has denied any wrongdoing, but confirmed he will step down from his role with the chorus.
West Hollywood Mayor John Duran blast ‘false allegations’
Speaking to the LA Times, Duran said he already planned to leave the group, but accelerated his departure due to the “toxic” climate spurred by “false allegations.”
LA Gay Men’s Chorus executive director Jonathan Weedman said he would impose mandatory harassment training so that “everybody understands what is OK and what is not.”
He added: “This organisation is rife with different levels of what people consider acceptable workplace conduct.
“It is time for this, and perhaps a bit overdue.”
Weedman described Duran as “one of the finest men I have known in my life,” and added that the organisation had only been aware of Tong’s allegation. The Gay Men’s Chorus contracted an investigator to look into Tong’s claims, but found no corroborating evidence.
A male former city council aide to Duran was paid a $500,000 out-of-court settlement by the city in 2016 after allegations of sexual harassment. Duran did not admit any wrongdoing.