COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, backed calls for an independent investigation of a sexual harassment case in the AG’s office. Yesterday, State Representatives Nickie Antonio and Nick Celebrezze introduced legislation authorizing an independent investigation into “any wrongful acts or omissions made in the course of addressing allegations of sexual harassment.

Pepper made the following statement in support of the legislation:

“In 2014, an Attorney General should know better than to personally interfere in a sexual harassment investigation, particularly when the accused is allegedly a close personal friend. Mr. DeWine failed to set an appropriate standard for conducting these investigations and refuses to provide clear answers to outstanding questions. An independent investigation is justified in this case.”

An AG’s office intern reported being sexually harassed by a senior male staffer who was a personal friend of Mike DeWine. Throughout the course of investigation, a confidential witness approached the office’s internal investigator. Despite the investigator’s objections, DeWine forced the investigator to turn over the confidential witness’s name. DeWine met with the witness, but made no record of their conversation. The investigation closed a few days later.

Experts interviewed by Ohio media have condemned DeWine for interfering in the investigation, saying his actions could be seen as “trying to shape witness testimony” and could have “a chilling effect on future informants.”