DC lawmaker questions objectivity of investigation into the mayor’s former adviser

A D.C. lawmaker is concerned about how the mayor’s office is moving forward with a sexual harassment investigation into her former chief of staff.

Ward 1 Council member Brianne Nadeau questioned why the probe is not being independently run, and she is raising questions about the objectivity of the Mayor’s Office of Legal Council’s investigation into allegations made by two D.C. employees who said they experienced sexual harassment and unwanted advances from former Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio.

“It’s entirely possible that this investigation could absolutely provide justice to the two people who have come forward so far. But I think it’s challenging because … you have an entity that is essentially investigating itself,” Nadeau said.

In 2018, Nadeau led an effort to update the council’s sexual harassment policies to ensure safe reporting and independent investigation.

“We’re in a situation right now as a government, where we have two very brave people who’ve come forward to talk about what happened to them; but I think also, in turn, some vulnerabilities within our government and some problems within our government. And, and I really hope that their experiences were isolated, but I fear they may not have been,” Nadeau said.

The mayor’s office operates under the D.C. governmentwide policy, which was updated in December 2017. The policy states, “Sexual harassment violates the District’s values, the DC Department of Human Resources takes all claims of harassment seriously and will remain committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees.”

When asked about the office’s ability to investigate former colleagues, Mayor’s Office of Legal Council Deputy Director Vanessa Natale said, “I want to assure everyone that my office, our office, our investigator does their work objectively and without fear or favor.”

“This matter will be handled confidentially to protect the privacy of the individual complainants,” Natale said.

It is unclear whether the investigation by the Mayor’s Office of Legal Council investigation will conclude without the need to pass it on to another entity for criminal review or whether it will be independently assessed.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up