LOS ANGELES — A lawyer has accused Spanish-language radio host Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo of sexually harassing one of his staffers before Univision abruptly ended Sotelo's morning show after a decade on the air.
In an April 16 letter to Univision executives, attorney Robert R. Clayton, who represents writer, performer and producer Alberto "Beto" Cortez, alleged that Sotelo made aggressive and unwanted sexual advances, including groping, the Los Angeles Times reported late Monday (http://lat.ms/11r5xBr ).
The letter also accused Sotelo of ordering members of his radio production team to falsify letters to lawmakers in a high-profile campaign in support of immigration reform, and heaping "unrealistic and unlawful demands" on Cortez such as working long hours without breaks or additional compensation.
"I have also spoken to former employees of the show who witnessed much of the harassment described herein," Clayton wrote in the letter obtained by the Times. "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."
Sotelo's attorney Jeffrey Spitz told the Times the accusations were false and motivated by money.
"The employee's allegations of harassment and falsification of immigration letters are pure fiction intended to gain a financial settlement," Spitz said in a statement.
Clayton asked Univision to reach a settlement with Cortez or a lawsuit would be filed. John C. Taylor, one of Clayton's law partners, said the firm had no comment.
Univision suddenly ended Sotelo's show last week and started playing music in place of the Mexican-born disc jockey known for helping propel immigrant supporters into the streets en masse in 2006 to protest an anti-illegal immigration bill.
No reason was given for the decision to yank the program. On Tuesday, Univision spokeswoman Monica Talan declined to comment on the allegations.
Sotelo, who was recently elected to the National Radio Hall of Fame, played corny jokes and pranks on his morning drive time show but also hosted politicians including President Obama to discuss issues such as immigration reform.
In 2007, Sotelo traveled to Washington to present lawmakers with 1 million letters in support of immigration reform. He often spoke on his program of his own experiences as an immigrant crossing the border illegally as a teenager and later obtaining papers and becoming an American citizen.
Sotelo, whose nickname means "Tweety Bird," also voiced roles in "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and other movies.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com