According to a new inspector general [OIG] review first reported by the Washington Post, the Obama Justice Department mishandled a number of sexual harassment complaints inside its ranks for years.
The Justice Department has “systemic” problems in how it handles sexual harassment complaints, with those found to have acted improperly often not receiving appropriate punishment, and the issue requires “high level action,” according to the department’s inspector general.
Justice supervisors have mishandled complaints, the IG said, and some perpetrators were given little discipline or even later rewarded with bonuses or performance awards. At the same time, the number of allegations of sexual misconduct has been increasing over the past five years and the complaints have involved senior Justice Department officials across the country.
The cases examined by the IG’s office include a U.S. attorney who had a sexual relationship with a subordinate and sent harassing texts and emails when it ended; a Civil Division lawyer who groped the breasts and buttocks of two female trial attorneys; and a chief deputy U.S. marshal who had sex with “approximately” nine women on multiple occasions in his U.S. Marshals Service office, according to investigative reports obtained by The Washington Post under a Freedom of Information Act request.
"We’re talking about presidential appointees, political appointees, FBI special agents in charge, U.S. attorneys, wardens, a chief deputy U.S. marshal, a U.S. marshal assistant director, a deputy assistant attorney general,” Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said in an interview.
According to a document released by Horowitz and his office in October, a Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal engaged in inappropriate sexual activity "in a government space" with multiple women. From the executive summary of OIG's findings:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation
of a Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal (CDUSM) based on information it received that the CDUSM engaged in misconduct by engaging in sexual activity with numerous different women within government space. The DOJ OIG received additional information alleging, among other things, that the CDUSM contacted some of the women identified in the investigation and requested they not disclose any information concerning their sexual activity within government space to the OIG, and that the CDUSM released official information to unauthorized individuals.
The OIG substantiated the allegation that the CDUSM engaged in sexual activity with several different women within government space, contacted some of the women identified and encouraged them not to disclose to the OIG any information concerning their sexual activity within the government space, and initially lied to the OIG about his sexual activity on government property. The OIG also found that in connection with his personal relationships, the CDUSM allowed multiple unauthorized non-government employees whom he was dating to park their personal vehicles within and in front of government property.
In the DOJ Civil Division, the OIG found the Department failed to properly discipline at least one attorney for inappropriate sexual behavior.
"We identified significant weaknesses in the Civil Division’s tracking, reporting, and investigating of the 11 sexual harassment and misconduct allegations that we reviewed, as well as inconsistencies among penalties imposed
for substantiated allegations. We believe that because each allegation of sexual harassment or misconduct requires consideration, the Civil Division must address these weaknesses and provide adequate guidance to ensure that it acts consistently with the Department’s zero tolerance policy," the review states.
"The Civil Division does not have penalty tables or guidelines for handling substantiated cases of sexual harassment and misconduct, which we believe has affected the Civil Division’s ability to impose consistent penalties and enforce the Department’s zero tolerance policy," it continues.
Current Justice Department officials are staying relatively quiet on this issue, but did release a statement to Fox News about the findings.
“The Department does not discuss specific employee disciplinary actions or comment on personnel actions or matters that may impact personal privacy. That said, the Department was very disappointed with the issues that occurred in the Obama administration and strives for a workplace free of harassment and other misconduct for all of our 115,000 employees,” DOJ Spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement to Fox News. “That is why the Civil Division has implemented additional safeguards and systems to ensure that all misconduct allegations are handled appropriately going forward.”