We finally have a likely reason for the bizarre departure of Univision’s syndicated morning star Eddie ‘Piolin’ Sotelo, popular host of “Piolin por la Manana.” He has been accused of sexual harassment and more by Alberto ‘Beto’ Cortez, reports The LA Times.
Cortez, a writer, producer and performer on the show, alleged that his boss Sotelo was “physically, sexually and emotionally harassing” him for a three-year period ending last January. The claim was made in a 4/16 letter from Cortez attorney Robert Clayton to Roberto Llamas and Jose Valle of Univision.
In addition to the claim of sexual harassment, Cortez alleged that Sotelo ordered members of his radio production team to falsify letters in support of a high-profile campaign for congressional immigration reform, an issue that Sotelo championed on his program.
Sotelo’s attorney, Jeffrey Spitz, said the allegations were false and motivated by money: “A disgruntled, troubled employee has made malicious and false claims about Eddie Sotelo,” Spitz said in a statement. “This was done as part of a demand for money…. The employee worked with Eddie for more than a decade. The employee’s allegations of harassment and falsification of immigration letters are pure fiction intended to gain a financial settlement.”
In the documents obtained by The Times, Cortez claimed that Sotelo repeatedly made aggressive and unwanted sexual advances, including grabbing Cortez’s buttocks and genitals when Cortez would arrive at work in the morning at the Glendale studio.
Cortez alleged that Sotelo taunted him during staff meetings, calling him by a derogatory term for a homosexual, and telling him to say that he was gay. Sotelo also asked vulgar questions about Cortez’s girlfriend, according to the documents.
“I have also spoken to former employees of the show who witnessed much of the harassment described herein,” Clayton wrote in his letter to the Univision executives. “They too have either been subjected to or heard of Sotelo’s misconduct, threats, and the retaliation he has taken against employees who have spoken out against him.”
Clayton asked that Univision consider reaching a settlement with his client, or else he would file a lawsuit “and the matter would become public.”
That letter also contains Cortez’s claims about falsifying letters. According to Cortez, after the immigration reform drive fell well short of garnering the 1 million letters that Sotelo had pledged to deliver, Sotelo ordered his staffers to “clandestinely photocopy letters so that it would appear as if he had gathered 1 million signatures.” Clayton writes that Cortez “initially refused but was told in no uncertain terms that the team needed to comply.”
In June 2007, Sotelo traveled to Washington, D.C., to present the letters to a congressional delegation composed of Sens. Edward Kennedy, Mel Martinez, Robert Menendez and Arlen Specter, as well as members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Cortez also claimed that Sotelo heaped “unrealistic and unlawful demands” on him, such as requiring him to work long hours without breaks or additional compensation. Cortez said that when he complained to Sotelo and other of his superiors, he was upbraided for disloyalty and threatened with dismissal, according to the letter from his lawyer to Univision.
Clayton’s letter goes on: “Because Sotelo was the cash-cow at Univision (rated number one in multiple markets and with the highest ad revenues), Univision turned a blind eye to Sotelo’s inappropriate and unlawful conduct. In doing so, Univision violated the company’s own written employment policies…Cortez “was so traumatized by this ever increasing hostile work environment” that he left the program on Jan. 16 and went on medical leave. He returned to work at the end of June, according to a document obtained by The Times. Cortez’s Facebook page urges fans, in Spanish, to “listen to me on 101.9 from 12 to 5 a.m.”
Last week, Univision issued a statement that “Sotelo and Univision have agreed to part company.”
“It’s been a great run with Univision,” Sotelo said in the statement.