It’s been nearly two months since OC Weekly and the Voice of OC reported on accusations of sexual harassment against OC Labor Fed leader Julio Perez, resulting in his suspension (with pay) and an independent investigation being conducted by an unnamed attorney. Sources tell TheLiberalOC five women have come forward to share their experiences of interacting with Perez, but as of the first business day of 2018, there’s no indication that the investigation has concluded or what the report would be.
Calls for status of the investigation made to the OC Labor Fed were referred to Jennifer Muir Beuthin at OCEA, but she and her media relations person were out of the office on December 29, and no one would confirm basic information about the status of the investigation (is it still ongoing or done for example). There was no return call, voice mail or email from OCEA today either.
Activists continue to press for answers about the investigation and fear the OCLF will sweep this under the rug, promote Perez to another position and appoint a new leader, or report that the investigation revealed no inappropriate behavior on the part of Perez. Rumors persist on a number of fronts.
Orange County is home to a number of progressive leaders this blog respects immensely. On December 19, I sent an email to DPOC North County Vice Chair Jeff LeTourneau, DPOC Central Committee member Mirvette Judah, Ada Briceno of Unite Here Local 11, Al Jabbar of Anaheim Union High School District Board of Education, Anaheim Council member Jose Moreno, Tim Steed of OCEA, Carina Francke Pantone of The political consulting firm The Francke Firm and Jim Pantone, a Lawyer and activist. All have close ties to OC’s Labor movement.
The text of the email is below:
In October, Julio Perez was suspended by the OC Labor Fed pending an investigation into inappropriate comments made to female interns that some consider sexual harassment. OC Weekly reports at least five women have come forward complaining of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. The investigation is nearly two months old and began before US Senator Al Franken was accused of inappropriate behavior before he was elected to the Senate and Franken has already announced he is stepping down; the Perez investigation continues on with no updates being made public.
On Saturday (added by editor: December16), Garden Grove council member Kim Nguyen, responding to a social media post, replied to an individual with this comment about Julio Perez:
“I have met and wish I could say the pleasure of interacting with Julio on several occasions. He is extremely inappropriate and misogynistic. At least 5 women have spoken out against him and the fact that you felt the need to defend him on this post is disheartening.”
This marks the strongest words uttered against Perez since the investigation into his behavior began and the first from an elected Democrat.
On Saturday (added by editor; December 16), State Rep. Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher posted this on social media:
I have remained publicly quiet during our local drama regarding Mickey Kasparian. Many of you understand that my long history with all those involved kept me from getting into it publicly. Nonetheless, given the latest allegations, I have asked Mickey to resign from the positions of power and influence he holds, while he fights these allegations in court. I believe In due process, but I am disturbed that a string of Latina women from my district have felt so threatened by one person. Ultimately, it is up to the members of UFCW whether to retain him as their leader. Nonetheless, Mickey should step down from his alternate position on Central Committee and on community boards to ensure no woman feel unsafe during the litigation of these accusations. Women very rarely make up accusations of sexual misconduct. We need to give these women the opportunity to have their voices heard without fear of intimidation in a court of law.
In light of the call for Kasparian to resign and the length of the Perez investigation in Orange County, advocates who wish Perez to resign have singled those copied on this message to ascertain where you stand on his alleged behavior and what you believe the OCLF ought to do.
This is for a post on TheLiberalOC; please comment directly to me. I will publish your public comment word for word but if you have a private message not for publication, I will honor that as well.
There are three appropriate responses: 1. He should resign. 2. He should not resign. Or, 3. No comment.
Thanks for your attention to this matter.
It’s been 10 days and allowing for vacation and the holiday season, there has not been a single response to this inquiry received from any of these individuals by this blog. In many ways, the inquiry was a test of progressives in OC who many would think would support the #metoo movement except when it targets a person of great power and influence in OC’s Labor movement.
Santa Ana activist Tish Leon posted and tagged a number of OC Progressives in a post on Facebook on December 12. Here’s her post:
I recently saw this list of names on the post below. I know most of these people and I admire and respect all of them.
I’ve been cautioned about calling people out, so I thought about it for a long time. Then I saw this list, obviously others are thinking the same thing.
WHY are these people being quite about a predator who has sexually assaulted 5 women?
Are they afraid of losing Labor or Union support?
Would this be career suicide for them?
Do they not care or believe the 5 women who were abused?
Do they believe their friendship is more important than their own morals and values?
I know that some of the women posted “MeToo” and yet they are supporting Julio?
All of these men have daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, tias….yet they choose to support a predator.
Which is why I don’t understand. Please tell me this list is wrong. Please tell me that they all support the victims. Please tell me that they have distanced themselves from Julio. Please tell me this list is wrong!
December 11, 2017 at 10:27 PM
Here is a list of all the OC Progressives who have been silent on Julio Perez: Benjamin Vazquez (sic), Jeff LeTourneau, Greg Diamond, Leon Ciseros, Carolina Sarmiento, Ada Briceno, Marisol Rivera, Marisol Ramirez, Joese Gloria Hernandez, Yenni Diaz, Laura Kanter, Noel Perez, Carina Franck Patone, Jose F. Moreno, Martin Lopez, Hario Cortes, Gloria Alvrado. Your silence says it all.
SILENCE IS COMPLICIT!
The silence, for some, is deafening.
Ben Vasquez did untag himself from Leon’s post without commenting. And, in fairness, Greg Diamond did defend Perez’s use of the word “porn” in a post on the OrangeJuiceBlog in a way no one really believes.
On December 8, TheLiberalOC called for Julio Perez to resign. As we move into 2018, there is no reason for us to rescind this charge. For the good of Labor and the many progressive Democrats seeking election in 2018, Perez should resign. Two voices join us in this call.
“I agree with the calls for Julio Perez’s resignation. Earlier this year, I said that local leaders should ‘remove’ sexual harassers ‘from positions of power in our community.’,” said Danielle Serbin, (chair of the Orange County Young Democrats) speaking in an individual capacity. “In making that statement, I was motivated by a desire to rid our community of sexual predators, and a desire to vindicate the abused women who had to suffer in silence for many years. To be clear: I had no other motivation. I stand by that statement. The allegations against Julio Perez are more numerous, serious, and specific than those against many other men who have stepped down from positions of power due to #metoo. It is time for Julio Perez to leave his career in labor and politics behind, whether through resignation or some other method.”
Kim Bernice Nguyen, the only elected official who has called out Perez by name, augmented her December 16 social media comments with this:
“After initially calling out the accused by name and asking for answers I took a step back to allow for ‘proper procedures’,” said Nguyen. “We’ve waited for other electeds and community leaders to speak up, for action to be taken, for updates to be shared but all we’ve heard are crickets. Men all over the country–guilty of less–have resigned or have been removed from positions of power. Julio Perez has shown no remorse for his egregious behavior. Rather he has taken to social media to bully his victims. Enough time has passed for labor to process. If this were anyone else their resignation would have been demanded within days. The brave women who came forward to relive their experiences of harassment at the hands of Julio Perez have waited long enough.”