Education

Cortines' accuser details long friendship that went bad

Scot Graham, the LA Unified leasing chief who has sued ex-superintendent Ramon Cortines for sexual harassment and filed $10 million claim with the district, says he first met Cortines in San Francisco's gay community in the 1980s. Graham told the Daily News' Barbara Jones that he was a closeted gay man and that Cortines, the city's top schools official, was well known in the community but concealed his sexual orientation from the public. Graham contends that Cortines sought a gay relationship with him then, but that he wasn't interested.

According to Graham, Cortines brought him in as LAUSD's director of real estate in 2000, at a salary of $150,000 a year, without a resume or interview. Then things got out of hand, he contends now, twelve years later. From the Daily News story:

According to the lawsuit Graham filed last month, Cortines took him to dinner at the Water Grill and the two returned afterward to LAUSD headquarters. There, the suit said, Cortines groped him and asked him to have sex in the superintendent's office.

When Graham refused, Cortines told him "it was the least he could do" for getting him the job, according to the lawsuit. Graham rebuffed Cortines' advances, but feared that Cortines would retaliate.

OK, so time went on. By the time Cortines returned to LAUSD as deputy superintendent in 2008, Graham had met and married (in Canada) Mark Bryant. Graham says that out of fear for his job the couple became friends with Cortines and visited his San Joaquin Valley ranch. In July 2010, Graham says Bryant could not come along and that he drove north alone with Cortines.

Cortines came nude to Graham's bedroom -- which didn't have a lock -- and tried repeatedly to engage Scot in sex. Cortines then masturbated beside Graham, who lay "frozen from fear and shock," the suit said.

Cortines repeated the same activity on Saturday night, and made additional advances on Sunday morning, according to the suit. Graham fended Cortines off, but felt trapped, helpless and fearful for his safety, the suit said.

Graham said he tried to call Bryant, but couldn't get cellphone service and Cortines wouldn't let him near the only land-line phone. They'd driven up in the superintendent's car, and Cortines refused to take him home until Sunday.

On the four-hour drive back to L.A., Graham said, "I didn't say a word."

Graham said he only went public with a lawsuit and claim after the district publicly misrepresented a negotiated settlement. The district and Cortines have offered a different version of the events..


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