East Haven Mayor's Release of Harassment Complaint Upsets Accuser
The East Haven town employee who alleges that Mayor Joseph Maturo sexually harassed her at work was shocked to learn that her name was released to the media this week by the mayor’s office, according to her attorney. It’s unusual for these kinds of complaints to be released.
Lawyer John Williams represents Francine Carbone, a longtime East Haven town employee who filed a sexual harassment complaint in late July against Mayor Maturo. “She was horrified when she found out her name was going to be in the media,” he said. “Absolutely beside herself. She was so upset. It’s too bad, but it happened.”
In a case like this, WNPR would not normally name the claimant, but now her name is widely known after Maturo’s office sent an email to more than 25 reporters with a scanned copy of the complaint.
The woman alleges that the mayor engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment, including inappropriate comments, exposing himself to her, and creating a hostile work environment. Maturo denies the claims.
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which handles cases like this, is restricted by law from releasing claims. It can only confirm a case is open. Parties to a claim may give out the information, and reporters may request copies under Freedom of Information laws, but CHRO spokesman Jim O’Neill said a release like this is pretty rare.
“It’s particularly unusual for cities to give it out freely,” O’Neill said. “ In most cases, the governmental entities will say it’s a personnel matter, and it’s not disclosable under FOI. The fact that the mayor is putting it out to media sources -- it sounds like he’s trying to get ahead of the story.”
Lawyer John Williams said that in his experience, this is a first. “On the other hand,” he said, “I have never before had the experience of having to make such a serious charge against a politician before. Maybe that’s the way politicians respond.”
In a statement, Mayor Maturo called the sexual harassment accusations “patently false” and described the woman as a “disgruntled employee who was on the verge of being terminated.” His office declined WNPR’s request for an interview, but said the complaint’s release was made in the interest of transparency.
Listen below to Diane Orson and Jeff Cohen discuss the circumstances of the complaint's release: