PEPPER: HARASSMENT CASES, THREATS OF VIOLENCE SHOW NEED FOR OVERHAUL, ACCOUNTABILITY IN AG’S OFFICE

COLUMBUS – Today, David Pepper, Democratic Nominee for Ohio Attorney General, joined women from across Ohio to criticize a troubling pattern of harassment cases and short-circuited investigations in the Attorney General’s Office:

“These startling incidents are starting to resemble a workplace out of the 1950s when it comes to women. It’s long past time to end a “Mad Men” culture which keeps rearing its ugly head in the Attorney General’s Office,” Pepper said.

“The attorney general can’t lead the fight to prevent violence against women if he doesn’t protect the women who work in his own office. Threats of violence are never acceptable and should never be swept under the rug. I will order a complete internal investigation of these incidents and any others—and bring in outside experts to do a top-to-bottom review of the office’s harassment policies and practices—to ensure that we are taking every possible step to create a safe, harassment-free working environment in the AG’s office.”

Last Thursday, the Associated Press reported details of a case in which an attorney in the Employment Law Section made repeated threats of physical violence against a legal secretary—specifically referring to “punching” and “slapping” women. A senior DeWine aide was aware of the incidents, but failed to report them, and told some employees he didn’t want to create a “no fun zone” in the Attorney General’s office. He was initially disciplined, but, in an unusual move, was later allowed to have his case reinvestigated. The attorney who made the threats remains an AG employee, while the victim no longer works there.

This is the second major harassment case to be uncovered in the office, after a case involving the harassment of a female intern was revealed earlier this year. In that case, DeWine himself demanded to know the name of a confidential informant and met with that informant. The case went unresolved, and the intern never returned.

As a centerpiece of his agenda, Pepper has pledged to make preventing violence against women a priority. In April, he released his plan to make Ohio a leader in preventing domestic abuse and sexual assaults.

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