High-Profile San Diego Attorney John Gomez Accused Of Sexual Harassment In Two Lawsuits | NBC 7 San Diego

High-Profile San Diego Attorney John Gomez Accused Of Sexual Harassment In Two Lawsuits

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    NEWSLETTERS

    One of San Diego's most successful trial attorneys is the target of two lawsuits involving allegations of sexual harassment involving a former female employee and another woman who applied for a job at his law firm.

    In two separate lawsuits, two women say San Diego attorney John Gomez should pay them because they endured his inappropriate and illegal behavior for months.

    A Yale University Law School graduate, Gomez is the Founder and President of Gomez Trial Attorneys, an award winning personal injury and accident law firm.

    The Gomez Law Firm boasts big courtroom victories for victims of accidents, defective products, and dangerous drugs. According to the firm’s website the firm has won more than 300 million dollars for clients since 2000.

    The firm's website also highlights its expertise or “practice areas,” including aviation and bicycle accidents, dog bites, food poisoning and NFL concussion injuries.

    Missing from the list of “practice areas” on the firm’s website is "sexual harassment.”

    But one lawsuit, filed last month, by attorney’s Gary J. Aguirre and Dan Gilleon, alleges Gomez used to advertise his firm's experience in that area, but removed it from the “practice areas” section of his website, when Gomez himself faced allegations of sexual harassment, by a young female attorney, Alexa Zanolli.

    Regina A. Petty, an attorney for Gomez said, it is common for businesses to update their websites and mentioning the update in a lawsuit is “an attempt to grab at straws.”

    Zanolli, who had applied for a job at the Gomez firm, claims Gomez used his knowledge of the law, to protect himself against lawsuits. Zanolli was not hired for a position at the Gomez firm.

    According to the lawsuit he "refined and honed his techniques in carrying out his 'quid-pro-quo' sexual proposals... without explicitly proposing an exchange of employment... for sex."

    Text messages between Gomez and Zanolli are included in the lawsuit. They allegedly prove how Gomez tried to find out if the alleged victim would quote "be willing to satisfy his sexual desires in exchange for a job..." The lawsuit also claims Gomez sent a nude "selfie" to one of his alleged victims.

    In a statement Petty said, “It is an injustice that John Gomez has been forced to defend himself against meritless claims…Both women have no facts behind their claims of sexual advances and are attempting to win the lottery.”

    A second lawsuit, filed in September by attorney John Petze, alleges Gomez "flirted... made sexually suggestive comments...(and) touched a female employee ( in a "sexually suggestive way".

    That woman, Elizabeth Castelli, worked as a para-legal, at the Gomez firm at the time. She no longer works for the firm.

    Her lawsuit claims she endured the alleged harassment for more than a year because is a single mom, and needed the job.

    Statement from Gomez’s attorney:

    “It is an injustice that John Gomez has been forced to defend himself against meritless claims. Both claims are false. Anyone can allege anything in a lawsuit. Both women have no facts behind their claims of sexual advances and are attempting to win the lottery. Ms. Zanolli was interested in following one of John’s trials. Only once was a text conversation anything other than professional. Ms. Zanolli filed a lawsuit falsely claiming a quid quo pro sexual advance because John asked whether she was dating someone at his firm. Sadly, Ms. Castelli’s lawsuit seems to based upon a couple of bland complimentary emails and a fantasy apparently reflecting her unfilled hopes that John had a personal interest in her."