DeWine’s own office records refute his latest statements
COLUMBUS –Yesterday, Attorney General Mike DeWine defended his controversial personal interference in an internal sexual harassment investigation in which the alleged victim described her harasser as an older male in a senior position who was a “close friend” to Mike DeWine. DeWine, and his campaign, have made a number of statements yesterday that are directly rebutted by records of the matter maintained by DeWine’s own office.
I. No, the alleged sexual harassment victim did not recant her allegations as Mike DeWine has now claimed.
DeWine claimed that the alleged victim “recanted” her allegations under oath. A spokesman for DeWine’s campaign claimed that an investigation “by law enforcement concluded there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.” [Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer (8/11/2014), “Democrats continue to accuse DeWine of interfering with sexual harassment investigation.”]
However, the same story notes that instead the former intern testified under oath that her harasser inappropriately touched her on shoulder and knee on occasions such that she felt very uncomfortable being around this person. And while Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien (R) reported the harasser’s alleged conduct did not rise to a felony offense, he concluded it could constitute a misdemeanor criminal charge that another office would have jurisdiction to prosecute instead. Furthermore, O’Brien suggested that after having what the former intern thought was a confidential matter be shared openly among DeWine’s senior staff, the victim may have intentionally changed her story as to the extent of her harasser’s misconduct to “in order to achieve her purpose to have the matter concluded without further action.”
Furthermore, O’Brien cautioned DeWine’s office to “monitor male employees in the Education section for signs of sexual harassment” as described by the former intern. [Source: Report of Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien to the AGO dated May 24, 2013.] O’Brien’s report specifically refutes DeWine and his campaign’s statement that the victim “recanted” or that O’Brien’s investigation concluded there was “no evidence of any wrongdoing.”
II. Mike DeWine’s explanation about how he learned the identity of confidential source in sexual harassment probe contradicted by DeWine’s own signed witness statement.
In an interview with WBNS CBS-10 of Columbus, DeWine claimed that the investigator “mentioned” to him that there was a confidential informant who had given some information, but not enough. DeWine claimed he then asked for the informant’s name and talked to him. [Source: WBNS (8/11/2014), “DeWine Answers Questions On Handling Of Sexual Harassment Case.”]
However, DeWine’s own signed witness statement with the investigator indicates that DeWine demanded the meeting with the investigator and then he raised the subject of the confidential informant before demanding the disclosure of that person’s identity over the investigator’s objections. [Source: Witness Statement of R. M. DeWine dated August 5, 2013.] DeWine, apparently, made no record of his subsequent conversation with the informant, including any reporting back to the EEO investigator.
In response to DeWine’s intentional misrepresentation of the facts of his involvement in an internal sexual harassment probe, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern said:
“As multiple sexual harassment experts call DeWine’s outing of a confidential source improper, Mike DeWine continues to mislead Ohioans on the details of this investigation that went awry. DeWine’s own written statement and a written report from the Franklin County Prosecutor directly contradicts DeWine’s claims. It’s time for Mike DeWine to stop lying about this investigation and come clean about protecting his close friend instead of a young intern.”
A representative from the Sexual Assault Response Network of Central Ohio said that breaching the confidentiality of an alleged victim is “another barrier to reporting sexual harassment.” [Source: WBNS CBS 10 (8/11/2014).]
An attorney who specialized in sexual harassment cases criticized DeWine’s actions:
Robert A. Klingler, a Cincinnati lawyer whose firm specializes in sexual-harassment issues, said involvement by a top official or company president in a sexual-harassment case creates an appearance of impropriety. Klingler, who is not involved in the attorney general matter, said DeWine’s involvement, however well intended, might be seen as trying to “shape” the testimony of a potential witness.
It also could have a “chilling effect on future informants who would think twice about coming forward on a confidential basis.” [Source: Columbus Dispatch (8/8/14), “DeWine’s role in office sexual-harassment probe is questioned.”]