D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned her former chief of staff and deputy mayor Wednesday over allegations he sexually harassed an employee.
An internal investigation found John Falcicchio, one of the mayor’s closest advisers for years, more likely than not sexually harassed a female employee.
“I’ve been completely devastated by these allegations since they were made,” Bowser said. “John’s behavior was wrong. Period.”
Eight of the 13 members of the D.C. Council have raised questions about the investigation done by the Mayor's Office of Legal Counsel and whether an independent investigation should be conducted after only two of eight allegations were substantiated and the case was not referred for criminal investigation.
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“I don’t know what you can’t trust about a report that substantiates sexual harassment against a deputy mayor,” said Vanessa Natale, who oversaw the investigation and was firm in her defense of it.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say hundreds of hours of thinking, talking, writing,” she said. “That’s what you can trust. I stand behind the report and our findings 100%.”
According to a summary of the investigation made public over the holiday weekend, one of the substantiated allegations was unwelcome touching of a sexual nature on two occasions, including exposing his sexual organs.
The report also said Falcicchio sent the woman thousands of inappropriate messages over the course of less than six months. The report said sexually charged Snapchat messages, including demands for sex and graphic video, were unwanted.
“There are some things that are confidential that I cannot say, but I want you to know that, yes, sometimes unwanted touching and sexual harassment and behaviors associated with it are a crime,” Natale said. “In this case, in this matter, with these specific allegations, we do not find that, and I did not refer or call on MPD to make an investigation.”
Bowser said she hopes by releasing the report, more employees will be encouraged to speak up if they are mistreated.
“Whether sexual harassment or EEO (equal employment opportunity) or any complaint, we want you to come forward, and I want to send a clear message that your allegations will be taken seriously,” she said.
There is still an ongoing investigation into allegations from a second female employee. When that’s complete, Bowser said she'd like to see the D.C. inspector general look into the allegations and if there are any institutional problems in how agencies are run.
The report was released late Saturday. Bowser took full responsibility for the timing of the release, explaining she got the report Friday and wanted attorneys on both sides to have the full report as soon as possible and for the public to have a detailed summary as soon as possible.
The attorneys for the woman at the center of this report say she was blindsided by the release. They say they were given no advanced notice it was going to the public and there’s information in the public report that could identify their client, who they say is still employed by D.C. government.
News4 has reached out to the mayor's office and the mayor's legal counsel for reaction.
The mayor did not have to release any of the report, as this type of internal investigation is not public record.
The D.C. Council will possibly seek an independent investigation by an outside law firm, and there is the likelihood of a civil lawsuit or settlement between the employee and the city.
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