COLUMBUS – Today, Kathy DiCristofaro, Chair of the Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus, reiterated demands for an independent investigation into Mike DeWine’s handling of harassment cases in his office. In a new case uncovered this week, an attorney repeatedly threatened a legal secretary with physical violence. Previously, ODWC members demanded an independent investigation into a mishandled claim of sexual harassment of a female intern. In response to this latest revelation, ODWC Chairwoman Kathy DiCristofaro released the following statement:
“There’s a culture of harassment in the Attorney General’s office, and Mike DeWine is doing next to nothing about it. We now have a second case involving senior DeWine aides where key people ultimately were not punished. Women – and all Ohioans – deserve an independent investigation of these incidents and DeWine’s process for handling them.”
On Thursday, the Associated Press uncovered that an attorney in DeWine’s Employment Law section had repeatedly threatened a legal secretary with violence, making comments such as “You know you will do your job or you will be smacked,” and “You know there is nothing more fun than smacking a woman — that is, except for punching them.”
The attorney was disciplined, but remains an employee of the office.
Timothy Lecklider, a senior DeWine aide and section chief, was aware of the incidents. An internal investigation found that Lecklider failed to report them, which was a violation of office policy. In an unusual move, Lecklider’s case reinvestigated and the original finding was overturned. This was the first time in at least five years such a finding was overturned in a harassment case.
Lecklider is a longtime Republican officeholder in Dublin, Ohio, where he currently serves as a member of city council.
DeWine’s office botched a prior sexual harassment case. An intern alleged that a senior male employee who was a close, personal friend DeWine behaved inappropriately towards her. Despite his alleged close ties to the harasser, DeWine personally interfered with the investigation and demanded the name of a witness who had been promised confidentiality. Shortly thereafter, the investigation was closed without identifying the harasser.