Acting on an internal tip, the Justice Department inspector general investigated reports that a senior official had sexually harassed and retaliated against female employees whom he supervised, engaging in one instance, the IG probe revealed, in an improper consensual sexual relationship with a subordinate.
The unnamed official—who has since retired from the department’s Office of Justice Programs—was also accused of abusing his authority by coercing female underlings into having sex.
The charges were substantiated, the IG said in a summary released on Wednesday. The supervisor was found to have sexually harassed one subordinate by pressuring her for sex in exchange for a promotion, to have “sexually harassed another subordinate when he made repeated verbal sexual advances to her and ultimately sexually assaulted her,” the IG wrote, and to have “sexually harassed two other subordinates by engaging in sexually inappropriate conduct toward them.”
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The IG concluded that the behavior constituted “ethical misconduct, sexual harassment, and sexual assault, all in violation of law, federal regulations, and DoJ policy.”
In the case of the consensual long-term sexual relationship, the investigators concluded that the senior Justice official’s and “the subordinate’s respective professional positions undermined the consensual nature of their personal relationship. Any such unacknowledged relationship,” the IG explained, “potentially violates the federal regulations that require supervisors to maintain impartiality in personnel matters involving their subordinates and to take appropriate steps, such as recusal from all matters involving the subordinates, to avoid an appearance of loss of impartiality in the performance of their duties, to ensure that the subordinate does not perceive the personal relationship explicitly or implicitly as a term or condition of her employment, and to ensure that the subordinate’s response to the supervisor’s overtures would not be used as the basis for employment decisions affecting her.”
The IG further found that the senior Justice official “lacked candor” in his statements to investigators.
The department opted against criminal prosecution of the now-retired official, and the matter is now closed.