WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Amid an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment from a government worker against D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s former chief of staff John Falcicchio, Bowser’s legal counsel said Wednesday that Falcicchio was told not to have any contact with the worker and was placed on leave a week before he officially resigned.
Vanessa Natale, the deputy director of the mayor’s office of legal counsel, said Bowser told Falcicchio there were serious allegations of sexual harassment on March 9 and that he could no longer work in the office.
The mayor mostly stayed quiet at the news conference about her trusted advisor, letting Natale do most of the talking. She set a more concrete timeline of events that led to the revelation that the mayor’s longtime advisor was leaving his post under a cloud of controversy.
When asked whether she’s troubled by the sexual harassment allegations against one of her deputies, Natale responded, “We have policies and procedures that are implicated by these allegations and we are following them with fidelity.”
Falcicchio resigned on March 17, but he was notified on March 9 about the allegations against him, Natale said. An investigation was launched after a woman who works in the D.C. government accused him of sexual harassment.
“The way these processes work is you’re told general about what the substance of the letter was, and he was informed to stay away from the complainant,” Natale said, adding that the 9th was the deputy mayor’s last day in the office.
“He was asked not to return to the offices,” she said.
Kayla Morin and Debra Katz, two prominent attorneys, announced earlier this week that they were retained by a D.C. employee who accused Falcicchio of sexually harassing her in what they claimed was “long-standing” actions that also included “sexual contact.”
After announcing her deputy’s departure in a brief sentence last Friday, the mayor revealed on Monday that an investigation was being conducted following these allegations.
When asked if the deputy mayor had been warned or disciplined prior for sexual harassment in the past, Natale responded, “I can’t answer that, and I don’t know the answer.”
Bowser says she didn’t ask him to quit — he left on his own.
Natale said that women who come forward will be heard by the administration.
“If anyone else wants to discuss, wants to complain, wants to file anything related to this, it would be a part of this investigation,” she said.