As more sex-harassment data emerge, a leave seems likely for Greene

THE PHILADELPHIA Housing Authority board, provided with graphic details yesterday about claims of sexual harassment against Executive Director Carl R. Greene, is expected to vote today to put him on leave for 30 days while it investigates.

Documents included in a massive pile of information sent to the board spell out four sexual harassment claims filed against Greene, three of which have been settled for more than $648,000 combined. A fourth settlement is pending for more than $250,000.

According to the documents, one woman said Greene touched her in an inappropriate manner and called her names like "bitch" and "racist bitch."

Another said Greene took her to his apartment after a work-related dinner, fondled her breast as they watched a movie and tried to kiss her until she ran out.

Sources tell the Daily News that three or four of the board's five members are likely to vote today to place Greene on leave.

Greene, who makes $306,000 per year, took a personal leave after a scandal about his leadership of the agency became public last week.

Asked about Greene's fate, former Mayor John Street, chairman of PHA's Board of Commissioners, said Greene is "entitled to fairness" and has legal rights.

Street said he will not make a snap decision, referencing the case of Shirley Sherrod, a Georgia-based official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture who was wrongly fired by the agency for remarks about race, found to be taken out of context.

"We have to be responsible here," Street said. "If we rush to judgment on [Greene] and we're somehow wrong about it, this might cost [taxpayers] $10 million . . . he's entitled to collect damages if we make a mistake and a judge rules in his favor."

Greene, who wrote to Street Monday to say he would return from a leave of absence on Sept. 13, is trying to delay the board action on his job.

According to documents acquired by the Daily News, an attorney for Greene wrote to Street on Tuesday to advise him that Greene is "undergoing medical diagnosis and treatment outside Pennsylvania." That attorney, Clifford Haines, asked that the board take no action regarding Greene's status until his return.

An after-hours call to Haines from the Daily News was not returned last night.

The delay sought by Greene seems unlikely. Board members were also provided with a detailed explanation of how Greene's contract could be terminated.

Greene can be canned for "cause," which could include "willful and intentional misconduct, recklessness, gross negligence and a failure to substantially perform his duties."

But Greene's contract appears to provide some cover in cases resulting from his "incapacity or illness." Haines' letter to Street could be the first maneuver in making such a point.

Greene can also be fired for criminal acts committed to garner "substantial gain or personal enrichment at PHA's expense."

Mayor Nutter yesterday said the board should fire Greene if the sexual-harassment claims are true.

The three sexual-harassment cases that were settled cost PHA's insurers a combined $648,000, with $354,300 in damages, $75,000 in back pay and $218,700 in attorney fees.

PHA last week moved to settle a fourth claim filed by former PHA architect Elizabeth Helm, who said Greene took her to a restaurant after hours, dangled a promotion before her and then tried to kiss her. That complaint is expected to be settled for $250,000.

Details on the other three cases were unavailable until yesterday.

One woman accused Greene of a pattern of discrimination against "attractive young women," reporting that she was given poor assignments and measly resources and ultimately fired because she rejected his advances.

The second said Greene accused her of being racist and treating an African-American employee as her "slave." A human relations manager told her she shouldn't fret "because that's just how things are at PHA."

The third, who alleged that Greene groped her while watching a movie, said he threatened to provide her home address to a worker she had laid off.

Today board members also will consider a resolution to conduct sexual-harassment training while also reviewing and revising the sexual-harassment policy.

If Greene is put on leave, assistant Executive Director Shelley James will be appointed interim director. While Greene is out on leave he could have no contact with PHA.