Government report details sexual harassment allegations lodged against Mel Watt

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A federal worker advised federal investigators that Mel Watt, the previous North Carolina congressman who now heads the Federal Housing Finance Agency, sexually harassed her 17 instances, based on a duplicate of a 73-page abstract in an investigative report obtained by The Washington Post.

The report by an investigative workplace throughout the U.S. Postal Service describes the 17 incidents, together with one during which Watt is alleged to have stated he want to see an image of the lady in a bikini. Investigators stated they talked to a number of individuals who stated the lady advised them in regards to the incidents, however the report didn’t draw any conclusions.

The report was produced after the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity on the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees vital facets of the mortgage market, requested for the help of an impartial company. The Postal Service investigators, in flip, gave a duplicate of their report to the FHFA on Aug. 13, based on the report’s cowl web page.

The worker, Simone Grimes, publicly made accusations against Watt final month. She stated he blocked her from receiving a promised increase when she rejected his advances. Grimes filed a lawsuit against the company in federal courtroom within the District final month, and her allegations are additionally beneath investigation by the FHFA inspector common.

Watt denied the allegations once they first surfaced in a July report in Politico, earlier than Grimes publicly accused him.

When requested to touch upon the report, the company’s spokeswoman, Megan Moore, referred to a July assertion from Watt: “The selective leaks related to this matter are obviously intended to embarrass or to lead to an unfounded or political conclusion. However, I am confident that the investigation currently in progress will confirm that I have not done anything contrary to law.”

According to the investigative report, Watt declined to be interviewed in the course of the probe, citing the recommendation of his legal professional and arguing that as a presidential appointee he didn’t fall beneath the FHFA’s “anti- harassment policy.”

Moore declined to touch upon whether or not the company has taken motion primarily based on the report. A spokesman for the Postal Service workplace additionally declined to remark.

The impartial report features a abstract of testimony from two people interviewed by investigators. They stated of their testimonies that Grimes advised them in regards to the alleged harassment. Their names have been redacted from the report obtained by The Post. The report additionally notes that Grimes started recording conversations with Watt in 2016 and offered investigators with tapes and transcripts.

Grimes’s legal professional, Diane A. Seltzer Torre, stated the FHFA wants to maneuver swiftly to deal with the allegations.

“When a month goes by and there is radio silence — no outreach to me or to her whatsoever to discuss next steps — it is painful,” she stated. “In a case like this, being ignored after your complaint has been investigated can be as destructive as being actively sexually harassed.”

Grimes, a supervisory program administration analyst, continues to work on the FHFA beneath Watt.

Watt joined the company in 2014 after spending greater than a decade in Congress.

In an interview, Grimes, a senior company worker, stated Watt introduced a “folksy, one-on-one touch” to the job and that their preliminary interactions have been nice. “I was excited by some of the initial changes that were taking place,” she stated. “He has done a lot of good for a lot of people.”

The report says Grimes says the harassment began when Watt, 72, approached Grimes, 44, throughout a going-away celebration in 2015. Grimes advised investigators she was standing at a snack desk with different staff when Watt ushered her away and “asserted that there was an attraction between them that needed to be explored,” based on the report.

Over the subsequent two years, based on the report, Watt repeatedly requested Grimes to satisfy him outdoors the workplace, together with inviting her to his trip house in North Carolina, eating places, the jazz membership Blues Alley and his house. Grimes advised investigators she agreed to a number of of the conferences so she may complain that she was being underpaid after assuming the tasks of one other worker who had been promoted, the report says.

“The pay issue is one that I feel strongly about, and I am not the only person that this has happened to,” Grimes stated in an interview. “It was very eye opening for me. My hope is that other women will start looking into their pay.”

“I do believe the federal sector should be the one place that should be a standard bearer for equal pay,” she stated.

When she complained in regards to the pay disparity, Grimes stated she was advised Watt was the one one who may resolve the difficulty, and he was “dragging his feet.” When Watt arrange conferences to debate the difficulty, the subject turned to his attraction to her, Grimes stated.

In February 2016, Grimes returned from a trip in South Africa and Watt requested her to arrange a personal assembly so they may focus on her journey, she stated. They met within the FHFA’s cafeteria, the place Grimes confirmed Watt scenic pictures from her journey, based on the report.

Grimes stated Watt advised her, “I wouldn’t mind seeing pictures of you, particularly in a bikini,” based on the report.

In November 2016, Grimes once more met with Watt outdoors the workplace, this time at his house. They initially mentioned how one can resolve Grimes’s pay problem, based on her assertion to investigators, and Grimes requested for reassurances that Watt was not anticipating something in return.

Grimes advised investigators that “Director Watt acknowledged her repeated refusals, and kept stating that he could ‘draw the line’ but also reminding her how beautiful and gorgeous she was and that he could not help his attraction to her,” the report says.

In an interview for the report, an FHFA monetary analyst stated Grimes advised her, “Director Watt had come on to her and asked her out.”

The analyst advised the investigator that she later requested Grimes “if she had talked to Director Watt. Simone said she talked to him and told him she was not interested and wanted his advances to stop.”



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