Updated: June 03, 2021 06:37 PM
Created: June 03, 2021 03:21 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Thursday the Monroe County Board of Ethics met to discuss the findings of a sexual harassment investigation against County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell. The independent investigation concluded that Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell violated §45-13 of the Monroe County Code of Ethics when he sent an explicit photo to someone he was working with.
Flagler-Mitchell admitted in January that he sent the photo, saying the photo was intended for his wife.
It was actually sent to LaKaya Sinclair, who was 19 at the time.
Sinclair issued a statement saying Flager sexually harassed her and that she reported the incident to authorities on Saturday, Jan. 16. Flagler-Mitchell made his statement on Monday, Jan. 18.
The same day, the Democratic Caucus of the Monroe County Legislature called for an independent investigation.
The Ethics Committee Thursday called for a motion to make the report public and transmit it to the county executive.
“I move that we adopt the report submitted by David Rothenberg on June 1, 2021, concluding the conclusion that Legislator Ernest Flagler Mitchell violated §45-13 of the Monroe County Code of ethics,” said Clay Osborne, a member on the three-member Board of Ethics Committee.
“The Board has voted unanimously to share this report to the community,” said Joanne Giuffrida, Chairman of the Monroe County Board of Ethics Committee, shortly later.
According to §45-13 of the Monroe County Code of Ethics, it states that:
"Every officer or employee should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust. He should not use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others. He should not by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties or that he is affected by the kinship, position or influence of any party or person”
The seven-page independent report, which New10NBC obtained, reads that the investigation found that Sinclair’s accusation was entirely credible and conversely, Flagler-Mitchell's explanation for sending the photos lacked credibility.
The report goes on to say that "it is a fair inference from the facts that Mr. Flagler-Mitchell sent the photo to “secure unwarranted privileges" - namely, sexual favors.
The report does recommend that the Monroe County Code of Ethics be revised to specifically address sexual overtures. In a statement, County Executive Adam Bello was critical that there are no consequences despite the findings called on the legislature to adopt changes that he's proposed, saying:
"Lakaya Sinclair and the other women who came forward with allegations of unwanted, inappropriate and sexually explicit communications against Legislator Flagler-Mitchell showed tremendous courage. Incidents like this break the public’s trust in our government.
"Elected officials and community leaders must be held to a higher standard and must be held accountable for their actions. That the victim’s credible and corroborated accounts resulted in a violation of an ethics policy with no consequences shows a shameful lack of accountability built into our current system. I call upon Monroe County Legislature President Joe Carbone and the Republican Majority to pass the ethics reform measures I have put forth and that were recommended by the independent investigation."
Last month, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office determined Flagler-Mitchell would face no criminal charges for the incident.
News10NBC has reached out to Mr. Flagler-Mitchell but was unable to connect with him.
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