Gay former LAPD employee sues city for discrimination

A gay former Los Angeles Police Department civilian employee is suing the city, alleging he was wrongfully fired in 2021 after being falsely accused of sexually assaulting another man.

David Ray Lopez's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit allegations include discrimination, harassment, whistleblower retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Lopez seeks unspecified damages in the suit brought Wednesday.

A representative for the City Attorney's Office could not be immediately reached.

Lopez was hired in July 2014 as a police service representative, the suit states. In June 2020, Christopher Ponce, who Lopez once considered a friend, "began maliciously making false allegations of sexual misconduct against Lopez," falsely accusing the plaintiff on Twitter of sexually assaulting him in December 2018, according to the suit.

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Ponce, who like Lopez is gay, accused the plaintiff of being "homophobic, transphobic and a predator," seriously harming the plaintiff's reputation, according to the suit, which does not state whether Ponce had ties to the LAPD.

A "shocked" Lopez filed a complaint with his supervisor, Capt. Dave Storaker, saying the allegedly false allegations could hurt his goal of one day becoming a police officer, according to the suit.

Lopez later received an email from a sergeant notifying the plaintiff that he was being investigated for sexual assault, drug use and other allegations, leaving the plaintiff "devastated," the suit states.

Lopez was questioned about his relationship with Ponce during a subsequent meeting with the sergeant and a union representative. Lopez said he and Ponce were friends for years who had recently grown apart, but added that the two had a sexual encounter at the plaintiff's home in December 2018 after spending time at a West Hollywood bar where Lopez had become "highly inebriated," the suit states.

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Lopez said his mother, grandmother and a cousin all were home at the time he was intimate with Ponce, the suit states.

The plaintiff was confined to an office, put on leave while the investigation into his conduct proceeded, the suit states.

During a subsequent meeting last May with Capt. Alejandro Vargas, Lopez described what happened between him and Ponce during the night in question, the suit states. The next day, Vargas called Lopez a good employee, but told the plaintiff he was being fired anyway, the suit states.

Lopez's supervisors knew that treating him in the way he alleges, they would deprive him of his livelihood and cause him extreme hardship, according to the suit, which further states he continues to sustain substantial earnings losses and other employment benefits.

Lopez believes his sexual orientation played a role in the way he was treated on the job and in his firing, the suit states.

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