Philadelphia's city government paid out more than $130,000 to settle two sexual harassment lawsuits in June, one stemming from the Department of Prisons and another from the Office of the City Commissioners.
According to records obtained through a right-to-know request, the city agreed to pay one woman, a correctional officer, $100,000 to settle a suit she filed last year alleging that her supervisor sexually harassed her for two years, and that he and another higher-up retaliated after she complained about the behavior.
In a separate case, the city government paid out $32,500 to settle a lawsuit brought by a clerk in the city commissioners' Office of Voter Registration who claimed her coworker-turned-supervisor groped and sexually harassed her.
The $100,000 payout, agreed to in December 2017, is included in the $2.2 million paid by the city between 2012 and April of this year to settle sexual misconduct claims. That calculation was reported in a June audit conducted by the city's fiscal watchdog, Controller Rebecca Rhynhart. The $32,500 payment, from a settlement reached this summer, was not included in the $2.2 million figure.
A city spokesperson declined to comment on the cases specifically, noting Mayor Kenney signed an executive order last month aimed at improving sexual misconduct reporting systems within city government.
The lawsuit against the Philadelphia prisons was filed in May 2017 by Morgan Scott, a correctional officer who claimed her former supervisor at the House of Correction, ex-correctional sergeant Robinson Hernandez, made "unwanted sexual advances" toward her "on many occasions" beginning in 2013.
The lawsuit alleges he made comments about her body and physical appearance, stared at her while working, and stated he'd leave his girlfriend for her.
After Scott became engaged to another correctional officer of the same rank in 2015, Hernandez began to schedule her to work in a different location within the jail. According to the lawsuit, he stated in a note: "When your around many improper thoughts and wanting of improper actions."
Scott's then-fiancé complained to higher-ups about the behavior, and Deputy Warden Edward Miranda launched an internal inquiry. According to the lawsuit, Hernandez stated the note was a "joke." Then, Miranda filed a formal report against Scott, alleging she violated the Employee Code of Conduct with respect to sexual harassment, the suit states.
Miranda didn't respond to a request for comment. Shawn Hawes, a spokesperson for the Department of Prisons, said a right-to-know request must be filed in order to obtain "sensitive employee information." She added the department "has a zero-tolerance policy regarding both sexual harassment and retaliation for making a complaint."
Following the internal inquiry, Hernandez was reassigned to Riverside Correctional, the city's women's facility, while Scott was reassigned to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, according to the suit. Hernandez's employment with the city ended in 2017, payroll records show. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.
Scott declined to comment through her attorney, Timothy Creech, who would say only that his client wishes "to put the matter behind her."
Corinthia Johnson, the clerk in the City Commissioners' Office, contended in a 2017 lawsuit that Francisco Martinez groped her breast, rubbed her shoulders without her consent, and walked up to her desk with his zipper down. When informed his zipper was down, he said he was not wearing underwear "either," the suit contends. Johnson says the alleged harassment began shortly after her hire in 2004.
Johnson said she complained about Martinez's behavior several times, including in 2016 to Democrat Lisa Deeley, one of the three City Commissioners who oversee Philadelphia's elections. But Martinez was not reprimanded and was allowed to keep working with her, Johnson said.
Deeley said in a statement she's prohibited from discussing Johnson's case and said the office doesn't comment on personnel matters concerning current employees. She said Martinez "was terminated from employment."
"Please be assured that myself and my fellow commissioners take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously and make sure that all proper procedures are followed to ensure a safe work environment for our employees," she added.
Johnson claimed three other women in the office had been sexually harassed by Martinez between 2008 and 2016.
"The Commissioners' Office did nothing," contended Johnson's lawyer, Thomas Holland. "There were no procedures in place for when a woman would make a sexual harassment case."
Johnson said coworkers retaliated against her for complaining about the sexual harassment, and that she was denied promotions in favor of people less qualified.
In a separate case involving Sherron Bell, another employee in the Office of Voter Registration, Martinez was found guilty in 2016 of indecent exposure and criminal attempt and sentenced to a maximum of two years of probation. He was placed on administrative leave about a month after he was arrested, according to Johnson's lawsuit.
Martinez later appealed the case, and a jury deadlocked on the charges earlier this year. A request for a retrial was granted.
Bell filed a civil lawsuit in 2017 against Martinez and the city, making many of the same claims that Johnson did, including the allegation he walked around the office with his zipper down and said he was not wearing underwear. Bell also said Martinez cornered her alone in a room, pulled out his genitals, and demanded that she touch them.
Deeley said she's "unable to comment" on Bell's case as both the civil and criminal proceedings are still pending.
Efforts to reach Martinez directly were unsuccessful, and his criminal defense attorney did not respond to a request for comment.