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Youngstown council met in private to discuss the sexual harassment allegations



Published: Thu, October 3, 2013 @ 10:29 a.m.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

City council members met behind closed doors to discuss recent allegations by one of their employees that she was sexually harassed on and off since

January 2011 by DeMaine Kitchen.

Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/secretary and an independent candidate for mayor, strongly denies the charges and contends they are “politically

motivated.”

The seven council members spent 30 minutes in executive session Wednesday with Council President Jamael Tito Brown, Mayor Charles Sammarone and Law

Director Anthony Farris.

While some council members acknowledged the private meeting was about the claims made by Lyndsey Hughes, the city’s downtown director of events, special projects and marketing, who reports directly to council, they all declined to comment about what was discussed at the meeting.

Wednesday was the first time the lawmakers met since receiving a letter five days ago from one of three Cleveland attorneys representing Hughes.

Hughes didn’t attend the meeting, informing council earlier that day that she would not be there.

In the Friday letter to council, Atty. Barbara A. Belovich, who represents Hughes, wrote that her client “has experienced sexual harassment, including unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and physical harassment of a sexual nature during her tenure” from Kitchen, a city councilman who joined Sammarone’s administration in August 2011.

Kitchen, who said he took a leave of absence from his job Friday to concentrate on his mayoral bid, insists the allegations are “untrue and unsupported.”

Because of his voluntary unpaid leave of absence, Kitchen wasn’t at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Kitchen said Tuesday that Hughes is making the allegations this late in the mayoral campaign — the election is Nov. 5 and early voting started Tuesday — because she supports Democrat John McNally IV for mayor.

The city is close to hiring a noncity employee to investigate the claims, in compliance with its sexual harassment policy, Farris said.

In a Sept. 19 letter to Farris,

Belovich and Andrew Margolius, another attorney retained by Hughes, wrote that in January 2011, she told Sammarone, council president at the time, about Kitchen’s alleged behavior.

Instead of conducting an investigation, Sammarone met with Jamael Tito Brown, then 3rd Ward councilman, and Hughes about the matter.

Kitchen, then 2nd Ward councilman, said he was also at that meeting, and it ended with Hughes “acknowledging that” an incident she thought was sexual harassment was a “misunderstanding.”

The harassment stopped for a while after that meeting, but started again, said Emily Gilbert, another Hughes attorney.

In the Sept. 19 letter, Hughes attorneys wrote that “in June 2013, Kitchen began another torrent of harassment toward Ms. Hughes. And this time it was most egregious.”

Hughes was suspended for five days without pay a month later for failing to tell council there wasn’t enough city money for a city jazz festival, according to a council letter to her.

Hughes attorneys say the suspension and a police investigation that cleared her of any wrongdoing were in “retaliation” to her complaints.

Kitchen has denied he had anything to do with her suspension and the investigation.


Comments

1johnyoung(231 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Nice re-write, David. What happened to the original story with the quote from Sammarone to the effect that Hughes is a pretty girl and should therefore expect unwanted sexual advances?

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2JS(461 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

In November we will see how the voters react to all this publicity for DeMaine Kitchen. As the new mayor of Youngstown DeMaine may just be what is needed to motivate changes in town for the better. John McNally IV is not in the best interest for any revival.

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3One_Who_Stayed(236 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah Flick, lawyers hardly ever flock around high profile sexual harassment cases and represent them for free.

Must be the Cafaro's again.

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4Rooster(78 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Hey folks, if this gets any worse, Betras won't even have to go to the trouble to put lipstick on that scamp McNally. Sad fact is, there's no reason to expect the Kitchen supporters to care about integrity any more than McNally supporters have. If being up to his neck in that Cafaro mess wasn't a dealbreaker for the McNally bunch, then Kitchen not paying taxes and accused of being a woman harasser isn't going to be a dealbreaker for his bunch, either. Problem here is the hyenas putting forth the candidates, period. That nasty twerp Betras brings out the worst in folks and that was a bad bunch to begin with. Poor old Looney Toon Crea wasn't the worst candidate by a long shot.

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5msweetwood(160 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Hey Johny R: You must be confusing yesterday's story with the follow-up story posted today.

Yesterday's story is still available on Vindy.com. Go here:

http://www.vindy.com/news/2013/oct/02...

Dave is the reporter who broke the story. Was that the point to your inquiry?

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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6johnyoung(231 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

As I'm sure you're a good reader, Mr. Sweetwood, as I stated in my post it is apparent that today's re-iteration of yesterday's "breaking" story conveniently left out the accounting of the Mayor's comments to Ms. Hughes....Why...when the rest of the story essentially recounts the "facts" contained in yesterday's story. Massaging the story once again?

Also interestingly, today's story was posted early and then was later unavailable to readers until about 10:30 AM. Why was that? Did anyone at City Hall ask the Vindicator to change the story???

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7Silence_Dogood(1222 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

johnyoung do you really expect an honest answer to a VERY legitimate question.

"Did anyone at City Hall ask the Vindicator to change the story???"

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8msweetwood(160 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Wow. Conspiracy theories about a story that was broken by The Vindicator. Of course we would be in on covering up the very story we broke, right?

Sheesh.

There were a couple of random stories that were impacted by online glitches today that were remedied mid-morning. Sorry, Snoop Sisters, but that's all that happened.

Beyond that, I can't legitimately address the silliness of Johny and Silence because to do so would mean that I would have to be polite and pretend they could actually fashion "legitimate" questions.

Mark Sweetwood
Managing Editor

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9Silence_Dogood(1222 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The best non-answer answer ever from a non-politician. Or is it another conspiracy in the making, maybe you were told to answer it that way by a politician.

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10Silence_Dogood(1222 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

So we should expect to see a follow up story about Sammarone’s failure to follow The City's rules and policies in regards to sexual harassment claims, right?

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11hammar(12 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Glad some one finally mentioned rules. Maybe the Vindy can check further into the rules about the falsifying of health inspections and porn on their computer by a health director named Cicero Davis. AND STILL be working. AND STILL being paid. What was the Mayor thinking? "Mr. Davis is not pretty". Nor was his actions. Bad enough he put our health in jeopardy. But PORN? Give me a break. Maybe the mayor and Mr. Kitchen were viewing it with him? I wonder who Mr. Davis is backing? LOL. ALL PUBLIC RECORD FOLKS. WAKE UP.

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12Silence_Dogood(1222 comments)posted 6 months, 1 week ago

Still waiting.

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