Leon Valley councilwoman details sexual harassment allegations against Councilman Benny Martinez
LEON VALLEY, Texas – Two of the complainants who filed grievances against Leon Valley City Councilman Benny Martinez are speaking out, saying they want to be on the public record about their claims.
Councilwoman Dr. Catherine Rodriguez said Martinez’s advances started with what she thought was a helpful invite to lunch when she first joined the council in 2018. In her report, documented in a 70 page report by a private investigator hired by the city, she stated Martinez’s behavior became sexually suggestive and it made her feel uncomfortable.
“It was ‘I can go pick you up. Let’s go hang out.’ Not appropriate” Rodriguez said. “I, all of a sudden, felt like it wasn’t coming from an innocent place, a place of ‘Let me help you out’ but a place of ‘Let me see how much I can get away with. Let’s see how much I can push it. She may not say anything.’”
Rodriguez said Martinez was subtle with his comments and actions.
“It’s done in a situation when he can control the situation, where I can’t lash out or say, ‘Hey, what are you doing?” she said. “It’s one of those where I have to stay quiet and walk away.”
Rodriguez said she never confronted Martinez about his advances, but it was during a photo that was taken in December, in which she claims he pressed his body against her, that she needed to come forward with a complaint.
Rodriguez said since the complaint was filed, she has been hearing comments blaming her for the actions.
“(I've been) hearing from voters and constituents that this is what I asked for,” she said. “(They say) I deserve exactly what I’m getting, which left me contemplative of: 'Should I have even said anything?'”
Brandon Melland, the Leon Valley city planner, was one of six people who filed grievances, claiming Martinez had created a hostile work environment. The investigation found the claims made about the hostile work environment did not meet the law’s protective classification. Therefore, the actions complained about were not substantiated.
“I did not expect to be accused of being part of a conspiracy and did not expect myself or the other complainants to be demeaned and to have their complaints denigrated,” Melland said.
He said it’s been difficult to continue to work under the current situation. Both Melland and Rodriguez said they wanted to speak out to begin a record of behavior.
Martinez did not want to speak to KSAT for this interview, but he has spoken in the past and has issued statements denying any wrongdoing. In the investigator’s report, he said that if Rodriguez had an issue with him, she should have spoken up about it.
Martinez claims he is a victim of a conspiracy against him orchestrated by the city manager.
A hearing set for this week was canceled by a judge who granted a temporary injunction against the city to halt any decision that could be made about Martinez's future. A hearing is set for later this month to decide the next step.
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