A pattern of sexual harassment at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was reportedly confirmed Tuesday, according to BuzzFeed News, when it obtained documents detailing that a senior official at the department had sexually harassed multiple colleagues.
According to BuzzFeed News, its previous reporting in December 2018 revealed that the senior department official was Edison Aponte. He worked in various roles at the Department of Justice from 1994 until the allegations leveled against him reportedly forced his retirement last year.
The documents obtained present a pattern of sexual harassment at the department, BuzzFeed News reported, including information that the official – who is not identified in the documents – was not a credible witness and provided “conflicting testimony” to investigators. The documents published Tuesday also reveal detailed accounts from two women who describe alleged escalating harassment by Aponte.
One woman in the documents claimed that the official — Aponte, per BuzzFeed — began his harassment by making unwanted sexual comments and by rubbing her shoulders in the office. The documents say the woman added a mirror to her office in order to see if he was coming up behind her. The woman alleges that the official raped her, BuzzFeed News said, though Aponte reportedly denied those allegations and claimed that he and the woman had consensual sex.
The woman, identified in the BuzzFeed News report as “S.C.,” said that she felt mistreated by DOJ officials after she reported that she was being harassed by him in 2012. She added that she was unsatisfied with their response to the situation.
“What he did to those other people, management allowed to have happened — because they didn’t do anything when I went to them,” S.C. told BuzzFeed News. “They allowed that. They protected him and they allowed it.”
Another woman whose story is detailed in the report claims that the official knew she was struggling financially when she claims he pressured her into a sexual relationship. The woman entered the relationship hoping to secure a promotion, according to the report. Aponte, who, in 2018, did not confirm to the digital news outlet that the reports were about him, allegedly denied having any sort of sexual relationship with the woman. The woman alleged that Aponte took her to a topless bar and pressured her into answering questions about her favorite sexual positions, according to BuzzFeed News.
A third woman said she entered into a consensual relationship with Aponte, but investigators deemed the relationship between the two was inappropriate, as Aponte was in a position of power. In addition, he did not disclose the relationship to his superiors or relinquish his role as the woman’s direct superior, according to BuzzFeed.
Two other women in the documents said that they felt uncomfortable because of Aponte’s alleged actions.
The woman who allegedly entered a sexual relationship with Aponte in order to secure a promotion reportedly received a settlement from the DOJ, and declined to be interviewed by BuzzFeed.
Sexual harassment allegations have permeated American society in the wake of the #MeToo movement. BuzzFeed News noted that in 2017, there were further allegations of sexual harassment in the DOJ. As The Inquisitr previously reported, some employees at NBC News decided to unionize last week following reports their news organization mishandled allegations of sexual assault at the network.