Larry Hawkins The Man Who Loved Women

Vietnam left him paralyzed and in constant pain. But his female co-workers -- who have spent the past fifteen years fending off unwanted advances and inappropriate comments -- say his greatest handicaps are from the neck up.

Hawkins's fellow commissioners were stunned at his callousness. As they gathered around the woman's desk to console her, angry words were exchanged. Mayor Steve Clark was furious, and on the spot he stripped Hawkins of his chairmanship of internal management. The scene was so dramatic the Herald published a story about it the next day, and included a host of other changes Hawkins had made in staff and procedures that affected the entire commission. Commissioner Jorge Valdes decried Hawkins's management style. "Everybody here is living in terror," he said. Hawkins shrugged off the complaints with these words: "I don't consider myself a tyrant."

But tyranny does seems an appropriate word, at least according to the working environment described to investigators by the three women who accuse Hawkins of sexual harassment A Mary DiFede, Shelly Nudelman, and Marcia Fernandez. The women declined to be interviewed for this story, but in their tape-recorded remarks, conducted under oath by ethics commission investigator Larry Hill, they claimed Hawkins made lewd and suggestive comments to them and found ways to insult and demean them. Marcia Fernandez, who worked in Hawkins's office from 1988 to 1990, said it was a "hellhole.... It was very difficult to be called into his office alone because you felt, okay, what's he going to say next? Or what's he going to do next? Or what is his comment going to be?"

Shelly Nudelman, who worked for Hawkins from January 1990 to November 1992, said Hawkins repeatedly made remarks about her figure. "He would glare at me -- you know, leer at me -- and make comments," she recalled. "'Oh God, your tits are hanging out.' Or 'Your tits look great today.' And I would say, 'Would you please not say that. You know that I don't like that.' And he'd say, 'I know, but I just had to tell you.' Or he would say things like, 'I know you don't want to hear this, but God, you have a good ass.'"

Nudelman also told investigator Hill, "Every morning he'd call [on his way to work] and say, 'What are you wearing? Describe what you are wearing to me.'"

"Did he ever give you a reason why he was doing this?" Hill asked.
"No."
"Why do you think he was doing this?"
"Because," Nudelman responded, "I think he's sick."

Mary DiFede said she put up with the same sort of comments when she worked in Hawkins's office from October 1990 to May 1992. "He would say things like, 'You look very hot today,' and 'If I wasn't in this wheelchair, I would jump you right now,'" DiFede recounted. "I should have slapped him but I didn't."

On other occasions, she recalled, Hawkins deliberately knocked onto the floor a bullet he kept on his desk so he could try to look down her blouse as she picked it up for him. The second time he did this, she said, she caught on. But he tried other things, she stated. While standing next to him, going over some paperwork, he poked her in the breast with a pencil, she said. She turned to her boss, incredulous at what he had done, but Hawkins said nothing.

Hawkins would also force her to attend after-hours political events with him. One time he demanded her presence under the pretext of needing someone to interpret Spanish for him. That was a lie, DiFede argued, because she knew other people from the office would be there to interpret if needed. As it happened, an interpretor wasn't even necessary. "I just sat there and had to look pretty for him," she said. "He just kept commenting about how beautiful I looked and how he was with the most beautiful woman there."

At another required event, this one a political fundraiser, DiFede claimed Hawkins pressured her to go out to dinner with one of his friends. She said she reminded Hawkins she already had plans for the night. "And Larry looked at me and said, 'No, you need to go to dinner with this gentleman,'" she recalled. She said she ran off emotionally distraught. "I left the event in tears," she told Hill.

When she returned to work, she said she told Hawkins's executive assistant, Terry Murphy, she was fed up with the way Hawkins was treating her. "I told him, 'I'm not in any way a piece of meat or a Barbie doll for anybody. And I'm not going to take this any more,'" DiFede recounted to Hill.

In his interviews with both Hill and New Times, Hawkins said DiFede misunderstood his intentions. He wasn't trying to force her to date his friend. They were going out as a group, with several other people, and they wanted to buy DiFede dinner as a way of thanking her for volunteering to work that evening.

All three women also complained about Hawkins's requirement that they wear lipstick A at all times. While this may seem to be among the more trivial complaints lodged against Hawkins, to the women it represented a perverse form of control he exercised over them. For example, the women said that if, after lunch, they returned to work without lipstick, Hawkins would order them out of his office. "He would not let you address him until you came back with your makeup on," Marcia Fernandez asserted.

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