Authorities in DC investigating possible criminal behavior tied to former deputy mayor

Some D.C. government agencies may not be in compliance with the city’s new sexual harassment policy, which was updated after Mayor Muriel Bowser’s former chief of staff faced multiple sexual harassment allegations, Council member Brianne Nadeau said Wednesday.

During an hourslong hearing on the sexual harassment investigation and report regarding John Falcicchio, who also was deputy mayor for planning and economic development, Nadeau said over a dozen agencies don’t have either a primary or secondary sexual harassment officer.

Bowser’s updated policy, which was released in late October, said every deputy mayor’s office and each agency should designate these officials.

During the hearing, Nadeau said the current list shows three agencies don’t have a primary sexual harassment officer, and another 14 agencies don’t have an alternate.

“Most of them probably have them, and the list has not been updated,” said Vanessa Natale, deputy director of the mayor’s office of legal counsel. “That’s one thing that drives me crazy about D.C. government, where it takes us forever to get things changed on a website. I don’t know the rules, but maybe it’s not been updated.”

A report into the city’s handling of the scandal found that the sexual harassment officers didn’t receive training for their responsibilities “and it was perceived that their quality varied widely,” Nadeau said.

Asked about training procedures, Natale said she “can’t answer that. I don’t do the training.”

Broadly, Wednesday’s roundtable focused on findings and recommendations of a report commissioned by the Office of the Inspector General. The report, which Nadeau released publicly last month, found that a third staff member said Falcicchio targeted her. It also said that he had a consensual relationship with a subordinate.

Two city employees accused Falcicchio of sexual misconduct, prompting the mayor’s office to initially investigate. The Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel said in May that it “settled the two administrative complaints.” Local lawmakers tasked the Office of the Inspector General with hiring a firm to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.

The independent Office of the Inspector General report uncovered possible criminal activity, including sexual assault. But during Wednesday’s hearing, Inspector General Daniel Lucas declined to say to whom a criminal referral had been made.

“That’s a policy, where there’s criminal investigation activity, I simply don’t talk about that, for fear of undermining that investigative work,” Lucas said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for D.C.’s office said the office can “neither confirm nor deny” the existence of investigations, when asked whether it was exploring possible charges against Falcicchio. D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb said in a letter that his office is investigating similar activity, but his office only has authority to charge misdemeanors.

The suggestion that allegations against Falcicchio could be criminal was buried in a lengthy report detailing the accusations. That sparked a battle between the mayor’s office and Schwalb’s over sharing relevant documents.

But in a news release after the hearing, Nadeau said she secured an agreement from Bowser’s Office of Legal Counsel to provide Schwalb with the documents to investigate possible criminal behavior.

Natale, with the mayor’s office of legal counsel, told the committee that it has Falcicchio’s government-issued phone and computer. Neither was reviewed during the initial investigation.

The hearing was necessary, Nadeau wrote, because the independent report found that the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel “misled the public, failed to adequately collect and preserve all relevant evidence, failed to provide the investigation with the proper staff and financial resources, and failed to adequately consider the need to consult with or refer the matter to law enforcement.”

Nadeau said she won’t be satisfied until Falcicchio faces consequences.

“Men like this do not stop just because they have to, because they lose a job,” Nadeau said. “Men like this think they’re invincible. Men like this think rules don’t apply to them, and that women are just property.”

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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