A report looking into personnel issues, including allegations of sex harassment involving Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and an unidentified town employee, found the allegations unsubstantiated.
But the report also concluded that its author was “stymied in my attempts to uncover all the facts by what I believe is deliberate misrepresentation and/or withholding of relevant (even critical) information.”
Huntington Republicans immediately claimed a victory, with chairman Tom McNally sending out a press release early Saturday morning that read, in part, “The Town of Huntington released a report today clearing Supervisor Chad Lupinacci of any wrongdoing.”
“Looking past the heavy redactions, it appears Councilwoman Joan Cergol used her position on the Town Board to instigate the investigation against a political adversary based on a fourth-hand rumor without a shred of evidence. Every person involved in the alleged behavior denied the events ever occurred, including the supposed “victim.” No complaint was ever filed yet a year-long investigation into a rumor followed,” chairman Tom McNally said.
Cergol said Tuesday, “McNally has to be reading the Disney version of this investigative report because by anyone’s read and estimation of it, there is no fairytale ending.
“The GOP Chair’s nonsensical statement is a paper-thin political ploy intended to distract from the investigator’s disturbing conclusion of being “stymied” by uncooperative witnesses. Notice he also fails to mention the fact that the investigation was launched by 5-0 vote including two Republican councilmen. He is fooling no one except himself.”
The Town Board initiated the investigation last year after Cergol and other members became aware of texts between Lupinacci and a town employee.
The report, which blacks out numerous names of those summoned by the investigator, said that Lupinacci and the employee had known each other for some time and that one point, the supervisor invited the worker to come to his house at 2 a.m. for drinks but the employee declined. It says that Lupinacci then said the employee was ungrateful.
That same worker later won a home in the town’s affordable housing lottery, but said Lupinacci wasn’t involved in that process. The town has since banned workers on the affordable housing staff from participating in the lottery and the individual no longer works for the town,
The investigation also said that allegations had been made that Lupinacci was “stalking” the employee, turning up outside a bar where the employee had gone. But the report said that the employee said Lupinacci had not made advances or stalked the individual.
It also said that Lupinacci had told someone that he sometimes checked the town’s timeclock system and cameras to see if the employee had checked out or was in the building.
The report also cleared Councilman Gene Cook of complaints that he had violated the town code of conduct by sharing confidential communications outside of executive session and by asking about and making comments on one figure’s sexual orientation.
The investigation was handled by the law firm Jackson/Lewis, which was paid $77,000. It was initiated by the Town Board, not by a complaint from an employee or anyone else.
The release of the report comes almost almost a year after the allegations surfaced and at a time when Republicans are preparing to name their candidate to run for supervisor in November.
Both Cook, who is having a fundraiser next week, and Lupinacci are under consideration, while Democrats have chosen Rebecca Sanin as their candidate.
And the report has nothing to do with another case pending against Lupinacci, a lawsuit filed by a former aide who accused him of sexual harassment.
Arthur Aidala and Imran Ansari, attorneys for Brian Finnegan, responded to the Republican statement, reminding people that Lupinacci has not been cleared of wrongdoing in that case.
“Mr. Finnegan stands by his allegations against Mr. Lupinacci, and litigation remains active to bring Mr. Finnegan the justice he deserves, the law firm said. “While the Jackson Lewis investigation reveals strikingly similar allegations made against Lupinacci, it has no impact on Mr. Finnegan’s case or the mounting evidence that Lupinacci sexually assaulted him. Lupinacci‘s name is not ‘cleared’ and any attempt to say otherwise is a deliberate distortion of fact to save the floundering political career of an alleged sexual predator.”Jackson Lewis Final Redaction