Investigation finds former top DC official sexually harassed 2nd employee

An investigation carried out by the D.C. mayor’s office has concluded that a former top official sexually harassed a second District employee.

A three-page summary said the investigation substantiated the employee’s allegations that former Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio made “unwelcome, physical, sexual advances” toward her and subjected her to unwanted romantic attention, including sending her flirtatious messages.

The probe, which was conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel, concluded Falcicchio “more likely than not” sexually harassed the employee in violation of a mayor’s order regarding sexual harassment and the D.C. Human Rights Act.

The new report comes about a month after a separate investigation by the mayor’s office substantiated allegations that Falcicchio, who also served as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s chief of staff, sexually harassed another D.C. employee.

Attorneys Debra S. Katz and Kayla Morin, who represent both employees, said they are gratified by the latest report’s findings, saying it “substantiates our second client’s serious allegations of sexual harassment by former Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio — establishing a disturbing and longstanding pattern of predatory behavior by one of the most powerful men in Washington.”

Falcicchio, who was widely seen as Bowser’s top political confidant, resigned in March. The Bowser administration initially said he was stepping down to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

Falcicchio has not publicly addressed the allegations and, according to the summary of the latest report, backed out of an interview with the mayor’s office’s investigator earlier this spring to respond to the allegations.

What the report found

The summary of the new report, which was posted online Monday, said the investigator in the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel substantiated two of the employees’ four allegations — dealing directly with alleged behavior by Falcicchio.

The employee said Falciccio made unwelcome sexual advances toward her on four separate occasions in 2020 while she was in his apartment at his direction for work-related reasons, according to the report. On another occasion, the employee reported Falcicchio made advances toward her at a different location outside of work hours.

The employee also alleged that Falcicchio subjected her to romantic attention, sending her flirtatious messages and asking her personal questions about her romantic life “to manipulate her into feeling comfortable with him” and to make her less resistant to his subsequent sexual advances, according to the report.

What the report didn’t find

However, the report said the investigators could not substantiate allegations that Falcicchio retaliated against the employee for rebuffing his sexual advances by reducing her duties, “ruining her professional reputation” and treating her with hostility. The report said it also could not substantiate the employee’s allegations that she was retaliated against by other senior staff in the deputy mayor’s office. She reported that other senior employees, at Falcicchio’s behest, left her off emails, gave her a low evaluation score and belittled her in meetings.

Regarding the latter complaint, the report said it found that there was “some evidence” to suggest that a senior staffer treated the employee in an unprofessional manner, but “the record did not substantiate that this treatment was at the behest of (Falcicchio)” or that it was rooted in sexual harassment.

According to the report summary, the investigator conducted 18 interviews with 13 people, including both current and former District employees.

Falcicchio initially agreed to be interviewed on April 12 but then canceled the interview several days before and declined later offers to address the allegations through either an interview or in writing, according to the report.

The investigation into the first complaint of sexual harassment against Falcicchio was completed on June 17. That report substantiated allegations from a female subordinate employee that he made unwanted sexual advances toward the employee while she was in his apartment, exposed himself to her and sent thousands of messages between September 2022 and March 2023, including a graphic video.

Similar to the most recent report, the first complainant alleged she was bullied by other senior staff in the deputy mayor’s office and was demoted and suffered other retaliatory actions, but the report said it could not substantiate those allegations.

Speaking during a news conference Monday, Vanessa Natale, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel, said the “unsubstantiated” findings simply means the investigator didn’t have enough evidence to back those claims up.

Asked by a reporter whether any of the recent probes revealed that anyone else in the Bowser administration knew of any potential misconduct by Falcicchio toward the two employees before the official complaints were brought, Natale said that’s not what the investigation indicated.

“We did not hear anyone say they knew of sexual harassment of the former deputy mayor to the complainants,” Natale said. “Gossip is something else. And there’s always a lot of gossip. But we do our work with facts, not gossip or opinions.”

What’s next?

Earlier this month, the D.C. Council approved a bill requiring the D.C. Office of the Inspector General to hire outside investigators to reexamine the first complaint over concerns by some council members that the Bowser administration had essentially investigated itself.

Speaking to reporters at the news conference, Bowser didn’t say whether she would sign the bill or let it go into effect without her signature.

Separately, the attorneys for the two city employees who filed the complaints urged the District to make changes to its sexual harassment policy.

“Sexual harassment should never be tolerated under any circumstances, and we urge the District to implement immediate and comprehensive reforms to safeguard others from being treated in this reprehensible manner,” the statement from the attorney said.

Bowser told reporters that’s already in the works.

With both reports now completed, she said she would likely be making changes to the mayor’s order on sexual harassment in the District workforce, “which is already a pretty wide, sweeping order,” she said.

She added, “We will also look to changes in the law since I put that policy in effect back in 2017, to see what updates need to be made.”

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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