Created: June 09, 2021 07:00 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Lawmakers in Rochester are calling for Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell (D-29) to resign over allegations of inappropriate behavior.
News10NBC obtained the Monroe County District Attorney's Office's investigation report into Flagler-Mitchell. One of the report's conclusions: He used his position as a politician to start relationships with women.
The report, which we got Wednesday through a Freedom of Information request, documents interviews with 12 women with Flagler-Mitchell either messaged on Facebook or had a relationship with, including a 19-year-old who Flagler-Mitchell started messaging after she survived a mass shooting at her house last year.
"I thought I could count on the county legislator when he reached out to me, but Ernest Flagler-Mitchell did nothing but make my life hell," Lakaya Sinclair said on June 6. "
Sinclair met Flagler-Mitchell in the aftermath of a mass shooting that happened at her home on Pennsylvania Avenue last September.
After a series of Facebook messages, Flagler-Mitchell sent her a naked picture of himself. The district attorney's report says Flagler-Mitchell said it was meant for his wife.
On the first page of the report into Flagler-Mitchell, it says he used his role as "Pastor, Rochester fireman and county legislator to continually seek out women on various social media platforms."
The district attorney's office interviewed 12 women who described similar stories. None of the women wanted to be involved in the investigation.
The report says some of the women said the relationships were consensual because Flagler-Mitchell "gave them money or paid their bills." The report also says some of the women ended the relationship when Flagler-Mitchell "stopped providing them money."
My call to Flagler-Mitchell went straight to voicemail. My text was not returned.
Brean: "Have you read the district attorney's report?"
Yversha Roman, (D) Minority Leader: "Yes I have."
Roman is the minority leader of Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature.
Roman: "What I was able to take from that report is that Ernest Flagler-Mitchell abused his power as Monroe County legislator and other roles to take advantage of women."
Roman and Flagler-Mitchell are on opposite sides of an ongoing intra-party fight for control of the Democratic caucus.
Tuesday night, Roman and Rachel Barnhart, another Democratic lawmaker, tried to bring up two items to vote on: a censure of Flagler-Mitchell and a reform of county ethics.
Rachel Barnhart, (D) County Legislator: "Mr. President, I move the committee as a whole be discharged from further consideration (inaudible) file number 21-0156 enacting a local law amending the code of ethics of the County of Monroe."
Dr. Joe Carbone, (R) President of the Monroe County Legislature: "That is not, Legislator Barnhart, that is not on the agenda."
Barnhart: "Point of order, can the parliamentarian point to the rule that says I cannot bring this up in this meeting?"
Carbone: "Go ahead."
Parliamentarian: "You would have to bring a motion to suspend the rules. As the president, said the matter is not on the agenda."
Barnhart: "I move to suspend the rules."
That motion and a motion on a censure item were put to votes. They both lost 20 to 7.
Roman: "We asked for it to be included in the agenda and it was denied by the president of the legislature. Later on in the meeting, we attempted to bring it up and it was blocked."
I asked to speak to Carbone Wednesday. I was told he was busy with patients. I got this statement from his spokeswoman Bridget Harvey:
"Today is the first time Legislators have seen this report. Ultimately, the voters will have the chance to decide Legislator Flagler-Mitchell's future in the County Legislature. Voting for the Democratic Primary begins Saturday, as the residents of this district, Democratic voters will have the responsibility of determining their legislative representative."
Flagler-Mitchell is facing a primary for his district. Primary Day is June 22, but early voting starts Saturday, June 12.
Congressman Joe Morelle (D, NY-25) released a statement on the report Wednesday night:
“The results of the District Attorney’s investigation into County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell show a clear, repeated pattern of alarming and indefensible behavior that has no place in public service. There can be no tolerance for abusing a position of power and betraying the public’s trust. In order to preserve the integrity of public office, he must resign immediately.
I commend Lakaya Sinclair and the many women who have bravely come forward to share their stories. We stand with you.”
Here is the statement from Monroe County Executive Adam Bello:
"The District Attorney's report tells the story of women in our community who turned to an elected official for help, but were instead subjected to revolting and terrorizing behavior. I'm disgusted.
Ernest Flagler-Mitchell violated the public's trust, and must resign from public office immediately.
The women who came forward have shown incredible courage in the face of public scrutiny – scrutiny that far too many women in their position face. When public officials dismiss their truth, run for cover, and refuse to act, their trauma is only deepened.
The County Legislature has a responsibility to act, and they must do so today. I am calling on Joe Carbone and the Republican Majority to stop covering for Ernest Flagler-Mitchell. It is past time for them to drop their opposition to the ethics reform and censure resolutions, and immediately hold a special meeting of the County Legislature to adopt measures that will hold Flagler-Mitchell accountable for his behavior. Failing to do so only serves to empower Flagler-Mitchell and provide him with a platform to continue to prey upon unwitting constituents."
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