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Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Worker Claims Mayor Forced Sex on Her

NEWARK (CN) - The newly elected mayor of Irvington, N.J., forced a worker to have sex with him in her office, she claims in court.

Tamara Smith sued the township of Irvington and Mayor Anthony Vauss on Oct. 20 in Essex County Court.

Irvington is a working-class, predominantly black township of 59,000 people just west of Newark. Vauss was elected to a four-year term in a nonpartisan election in May, after previously serving as president of the Board of Education.

Smith, who has worked for Irvington since 2004 in the township's Department of Public Works, claims that Vauss' harassing conduct started before he became mayor. She says he told her in August 2013: "We have to find a way to get you more money. I want you to work inside with me. You know I want you. You be my girl on the side."

Smith says she tried to ignore the comments, but Vauss persisted. She says that in April 2014 Vauss told her, "If you give me some [sex], I'll work a little harder to win the election." (Brackets in complaint.)

She claims that after Vauss won the election he told her: "I won the election, so don't you owe me something?"

Smith, who is married, says she told him: "Respect your wife. People are going to be watching everything you do. You need to stay focused."

He replied: "My wife is good but it come a point in life where you have to settle down so I have my wife and my other special woman in my circle on the side," according to the lawsuit.

Smith says that Vauss took his behavior beyond comments on June 9 this year, when he told her in her office: "'I'll change your [job] title. Make you a supervisor,' and 'If you're my girl on the side, I'll take care of you. Baby, you can have anything you want. My wife works upstairs and your husband works here. Nobody would know and if they ask, deny it to the end.'"

After this come-on, Smith says, Vauss walked behind her, "and she told him no. Defendant Vauss then wrapped his arms around her waist and grabbed her belt. Then he said, 'I told you, I'll take care of you.' Realizing what Defendant Vauss (as mayor-elect) was trying to do, plaintiff told him, 'No. I'm not doing that to my husband.' He responded, 'I told you. I'll take care of you and Carl.'"

Smith says that Vauss then "pressed his body against plaintiff so that she was wedged against her desk. He then loosened her belt, pulled down her pants and vaginally penetrated her with his penis. As he did so, he reached inside her shirt and grabbed her breasts. He then stopped for a bit and masturbated while squeezing Plaintiff's buttocks. He then penetrated her again. Shocked and scared, plaintiff froze and said nothing as he touched and penetrated her. When he finished, plaintiff asked him, 'Does this mean because this happened, it will happen again?' He replied, 'Yup. I'm thinking about not changing your office. It's convenient for me. I'm running late. Gotta go to a meeting.'"

Smith says that despite her distress and requests that he stop, she was powerless because of Vauss' power as her supervisor, his position as a mayoral candidate, and then as mayor-elect, "as well as defendant Township's failure to enforce an effective anti-harassment policy."

Vauss did not return requests for comment.

Smith seeks punitive damages for discrimination, hostile work environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. She is represented by Paul Castronovo with Castronovo McKinney, of Morristown.

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