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Staffer alleges harassment cover-up at New York AG’s Office

About a year after a sexual misconduct probe forced the resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the attorney general's chief of staff faced his own comeuppance but got a more subdued sendoff.

MANHATTAN (CN) — A woman who says the chief of staff for Attorney General Letitia James groped her outside a New York City bar claims in court that the office tried to downplay the misconduct even after substantiating the claims.

Represented by attorney Douglas Wigdor, the attorney general's former deputy press secretary Sofia Quintanar brought her lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court against Ibrahim Khan, the attorney general’s former chief of staff, as well as James, her office and her campaign.

Quintanar says Khan inappropriately touched and tried to kiss her in November 2021 during a political fundraising event at a bar in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

During their conversation just prior to the unwanted sexual advance, Quintanar alleges, the two of them had discussed the August resignation of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo following the attorney general’s findings that Cuomo had sexually harassed multiple women.

In the face of Quintanar's ensuing report to the Attorney General's Office, Khan, too, resigned. But Quintanar says the manner of Khan's resignation belies the seriousness and the substantiation of the harassment that occurred.

“On November 22, 2022 — the same day the investigators refused to provide Quintanar with an update — Attorney General James permitted Khan to resign from his position, while being paid through the end of the year, making it appear as if Khan was leaving his post naturally before the start of Attorney General James’s next term in office,” the complaint states.

"Khan was permitted to submit a resignation statement intended to hide his unlawful conduct: 'As our four-year term in office comes to an end, I am writing to inform you of my decision to resign my position as chief of staff in order to pursue an opportunity in the private sector. My resignation will take effect on December 31, 2022.”

James’ office denies Quintanar's claims. “We took the allegations brought to our office seriously and engaged in decisive, prompt, and appropriate action,” a spokesperson for the attorney general said on Thursday.

James indeed addressed the allegations against Khan a week earlier, releasing a statement in which she insisted that the Khan matter was investigated swiftly and aggressively.

"Within 24 hours, our office took disciplinary action and put Ibrahim Khan under restrictions, and within 72 hours, we engaged an outside law firm that began an impartial and exhaustive review of the allegations,” the attorney general wrote on Dec. 7. “Mr. Khan resigned while the process was still ongoing. When the process concluded, my office spoke with each individual and informed them that allegations were substantiated.”

Khan's resignation letter is dated Nov. 22.

Before joining the attorney general’s office, Khan served as chief of staff and deputy public advocate for five years for the New York City public advocate and campaign manager for James’ 2018 attorney general campaign.

Quintanar brought her civil suit under Adult Survivors Act, a recently enacted New York law that opened a one-year look-back window for survivors for sexual assault to bring civil claims that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.

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Categories / Civil Rights, Government, Regional

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