DC Mayor Bowser’s former top adviser sexually harassed city employee, probe finds

An investigation has found former D.C. deputy mayor John Falcicchio sexually harassed a female employee, according to a summary of findings released Saturday night.

In the report, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of Legal Counsel concluded allegations against Falcicchio, lodged by an employee working in the Planning and Economic Development office, more than likely constituted sexual harassment.

Among other findings, the report says Falcicchio used his office as a dating pool, made unwanted advances to an employee, as well as exposed himself to and used Snapchat to track that same employee.

The report stated the office’s sexual harassment officer began the investigation on March 10, just over a week before Falcicchio unexpectedly announced his resignation.

By May 11, the officer investigating the complaint had completed 32 interviews with 21 people who were current and former city employees, or may have had knowledge related to the allegations. According to the report, three interviews occurred with the employee who first filed a complaint.

The investigator also reviewed “thousands of emails and other communications, including screenshot messages.”

Falcicchio declined to participate in the investigation, according to the report.

What’s in the report?

Investigators found that, on Sept. 28 and Oct. 2, Falcicchio made physical and sexual advances toward the employee while she was in his apartment. These included “unwelcome touching of a sexual nature” on both dates and Falcicchio “exposing his sexual organs” to the employee in October.

Falcicchio was also found to have sent thousands of messages between Sept. 28 and March 8 on Snapchat, instant messaging applications and to her personal cellphone. The messages included a graphic video and unwanted, sexually explicit messages from the former deputy mayor.

The same employee also complained that Falcicchio gave preferential assignments to women he found attractive in the workplace and used the office as a dating pool. While these claims were substantiated, investigators were unable to substantiate claims that favoritism was given based on sexual or romantic relationships with the former deputy mayor.

Of the 11 people who were rumored to have engaged in “sexual conduct” with Falcicchio, investigators said that four denied allegations that sexual or “attraction-based favoritism.” Seven others mentioned in the report either declined to participate, did not respond or couldn’t be contacted.

“The irregular hiring practices and promotions of employees rumored to have tolerated sexual advances by [the Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff] is a broader accusation and would require a more detailed investigation and analysis of … hiring and promotion practices,” the report said.

Claims of bullying for rebuffing sexual advances were also determined to be unsubstantiated, though investigators found evidence that suggested Falcicchio treated the complaining employee poorly. Additionally, this claim and calls to investigate retaliatory efforts by Falcicchio were outside the investigator’s purview.

The sexual harassment officer in charge of the investigation also said claims by the complainant of a transfer, demotion and threatening behavior were unsubstantiated by information gleaned in the investigation, stating salary and employment terms were the same despite the employee moving to another office.

“The [sexual harassment officer] found that the documentary evidence indicated that the Complainant and the comparator co-worker have similar educational and professional experiences and received similar compensation and titles,” the report said.

While evidence collected showed Falcicchio was able to see the employee’s location on Snapchat and, on one occasion, told her to go home or come to his residence for sex, investigators couldn’t substantiate reasonable fear for the employee’s physical safety, or that Falcicchio intended to harm the complainant by tracking her movements.

“The Complainant’s substantiated allegations against [Falcicchio] more likely than not constituted sexual harassment as defined and prohibited by Mayor’s Order 2017-313,” the report concluded.

The woman who made the complaint against the former deputy mayor has been given 180 days from March 8 to file a complaint with an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor.

WTOP has reached out to the mayor’s office, Falcicchio’s lawyer and the complainant’s lawyer for comment.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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