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A Youngstown employee’s attorney objects to the investigator hired by the city



Published: Sun, October 13, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

An attorney for a city council employee who contends DeMaine Kitchen, a mayoral candidate, sexually harassed her objects to who the city hired to investigate the claim.

But Law Director Anthony Farris said the complaint from Andrew L. Margolius, an attorney for Lyndsey Hughes, who filed the sexual-harassment complaint, won’t stop the city investigation into those allegations.

“They may be hedging their bets” if they don’t like the outcome of the investigation, Farris said of Hughes’ attorneys.

The city hired Steve Sample, a retired Summit County deputy sheriff who now runs an investigation company specializing in employee harassment issues, to investigate Hughes’ sexual-harassment allegations against Kitchen.

Sample’s investigation started Monday. He is being paid $60 an hour by the city with the amount not to exceed $10,000.

In a letter to Farris, Margolius wrote: “I am concerned that he does not know what sexual harassment is and has no training in performing a sexual-harassment investigation. Does he, and has he ever, investigated harassment?”

Margolius wrote that past experiences he’s had with law-enforcement officials shows they focus on if there “was some form of assault,” and not “about hostile environment or preponderance of the evidence or other fundamentals.”

He ended the letter by writing: “I am afraid that we cannot give you our consent to use of this individual.”

But Farris said Saturday that Sample has not informed him of any problems with the investigation.

“I assume everything is still ongoing,” he said. “I haven’t been told by the investigator that there are any problems.”

This is the first time the city is hiring a non-city employee to investigate sexual-harassment complaints since council adopted a policy on the matter in 1999.

Typically, an attorney in the city law department or an officer in the police department’s internal- affairs division would investigate employee sexual-harassment complaints, Farris said.

Because Kitchen, the mayor’s chief of staff/ secretary, is running for mayor in the Nov. 5 election, the city hired Sample, Farris said.

“This is our internal investigation; not part of a lawsuit or court procedure,” Farris said. “We’re following our policy on investigating sexual-harassment complaints. We’re trying to resolve the problem. This is us checking ourselves with the desire to make sure we’re doing the right thing.”

Attorneys for Hughes, the city’s downtown director of events, special projects and marketing, claim Kitchen has sexually harassed their client on and off since January 2011.

That includes, according to her attorneys, inappropriate comments, rubbing his genitals on her, inappropriate text messages and smoothing his pants to show his genitals to her.

Kitchen has strongly denied he ever harassed Hughes, and questions the timing — just before the general election — because she is supporting Democrat John A. McNally IV for mayor.

Kitchen is on a voluntary leave of absence from his city job to focus on his mayoral campaign.

Meanwhile, another female who works for the city has a note in her personnel file from Dec. 4, 2012, claiming Kitchen sexually harassed her — calling her “baby” and “hot,” ignoring her requests to stop, and that “he touches her arm.”

The note was written by Marti Kane, the city’s human-resources supervisor, whom the city employee approached about the alleged incidents.

The employee didn’t make a formal complaint, even though Kane’s note says the woman’s husband and union president told her to report it to human resources.

Kitchen also denied these claims, questioning “who conveniently perused this employee’s file randomly to find this note at this time. So it looks just as suspicious as the other allegations.”


Comments

1johnyoung(241 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

This administrative investigation is in many ways irrelevant to the final disposition of this matter. A civil lawsuit against the city will most certainly follow, and quite possibly a federal civil rights violation suit against Kitchen and the city. In both of these, the levels of investigative scrutiny will be much more intense and focused. The current investigation is merely a procedurally required step 1.

This bunch of Cleveland attorneys are certainly not stupid individuals, and they would not be wasting their time if there were not a high likelihood of a lucrative pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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2RightofLeft(41 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

These attorneys are not relying on some contingency fee from this piddling little case. They are being amply rewarded by Belmont Ave in order to assure Cafaro's boy McNally gets elected. Just the cost of politics in this valley.

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3bmanresident(597 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Would these allegations occur if Kitchen were white hmmm...?

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4OKthen(23 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Just imagine the furor if Kitchen was white and he was trying to get sexual favors from a nice looking black girl.

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5DACOUNTRYBOY(216 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

In the country Kitchen would be known as a HORNY HOOT! Is his admiration of other ladies OK with Mrs. Kitchen?

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6Robert_Neville(119 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

These last three comments are wrong in so many ways. I am sure that did not play any factor in the charges. If he did the crime then he needs to do the time.

The Attorney is getting 60 dollars an hour not to go over 10000 dollars. He will be the next attorney to make a commerical. Maybe Kitchen is on the little blue pill?

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7Silence_Dogood(1333 comments)posted 10 months, 2 weeks ago

OKthen if what you said were to happen then you would have the good Reverend Simon and the Gillam's saying that she is no Kizzy Kinte, instead of the comparison to Kunta Kinta. they have both sides covered. That card is very versatile.

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