A Los Angeles police detective can move forward with her claims against the city stemming from a longtime relationship she had with a fellow officer who allegedly distributed sexually explicit photos of her in order to ruin her reputation and career, a judge ruled Thursday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Susan Bryant-Deason denied a motion by the City Attorney's Office to dismiss the part of the case Detective Ysabel Villegas filed against the city.
The judge said Villegas' lawsuit provided sufficient details for now to support her claims against the city for sexual harassment, failure to prevent sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and public disclosure of private facts.
The judge said Villegas will need to shore up a fifth cause of action, however, that alleges LAPD supervisors failed to adhere to the department manual by not reporting the alleged misconduct of Officer Danny Reedy.
"It just needs to be explained better," the judge said.
Deputy City Attorney Shanise Black maintained that Reedy and Villegas were in a private relationship, that he was not her supervisor and that his alleged misconduct was not work-related. Reedy is a co-defendant with the city in the case, but Thursday's motion did not address the claims against him, which include revenge porn and domestic violence.
The judge also denied a motion by the city for separate trials of Villegas' claims against the city and Reedy. Black argued it will be prejudicial to the city to have all of the claims tried at once because those against Reedy involve a private relationship between him and Villegas that was entered into voluntarily and was unconnected to the workplace.
She said jurors may find it hard to separate the claims. Bryant-Deason disagreed and said juries are good at making such distinctions. Villegas brought her lawsuit on March 5. A 30-year veteran of the department, she says she dated Reedy in 2013-18 and alleges he was physically and verbally abusive to her throughout the relationship.
Villegas alleges Reedy took sexually explicit images of her and that when she broke up with him, he distributed the images to fellow officers, including supervisors, who still failed to report his actions. Villegas is the estranged wife of former LAPD Assistant Chief Jorge Villegas, who was among the people to whom Reedy sent the explicit photos, the lawsuit says.
"He did so for the purpose or ruining her reputation and her career," Villegas' complaint alleges. Villegas told supervisors about Reedy's alleged abusive conduct in 2016 and 2017, but her supervisors failed to report him, according to her court papers.
Villegas obtained a restraining order against Reedy in January, with a judge ordering him to stay at least 100 yards away from Villegas, surrender all of his firearms and refrain from distributing any photos of her.
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According to her lawsuit, Villegas went on a "stress leave of absence" due to the situation, and she remains on leave.