By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,

In response to recently substantiated claims of sexual harassment against former D.C. senior official John Falcicchio, D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) introduced an emergency bill that will reopen investigations into Falcicchio, who served as the former deputy mayor for planning and economic development and as chief of staff to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

The Sexual Harassment Investigation Review Emergency Declaration Resolution of 2023 was passed on July 11 by all 13 council members. It will go into effect once Bowser signs it or after 10 days have passed. 

“Workplace harassment is devastating – to have your career and livelihood threatened, and to coerce and silence survivors is not something we should accept, ” Councilmember Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4) told the AFRO. “We need District employees to feel safe in their jobs and this bill does just that. 36,000 District employees are counting on us. That is why I was proud to vote in favor of this bill.”

Falcicchio was a well-known face of the administration before his departure, as he was often seen with D.C. residents and business owners at events alongside Bowser on social media.

The investigative report determined that the original complainant’s claims of inappropriate messages and physical sexual advances were true. The Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel (MOLC) has blatantly said that the graphic messages and advances were in deed forms of sexual harassment.

“The complainant alleged that in two separate incidents on September 28, 2022, and October 2, 2022, Falcicchio made unwelcome, physical, sexual advances towards her while she was in his apartment,” reported MOLC. “The complainant alleged she was subjected to unwelcome touching of a sexual nature by the former deputy mayor during both incidents and that he exposed his sexual organs during the second incident.”

After the first physical encounter in September of 2022 until March 8 of this year, Falcicchio reportedly sent her thousands of messages via the instant messaging application, Snapchat, her personal cell phone. The complainant alleged these messages were “unwanted and sexually-charged, including demands for sex and a graphic video.”

Since the first woman’s claims surfaced, at least two others have made similar allegations. 

“The [emergency] legislation will require the Inspector General to hire independent counsel with expertise in such cases to review the report issued by the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel to determine if the methodology and conclusions it drew were justified within a 90-day timeframe,” said a spokesperson for Nadeau. “The independent counsel would also review new formal or informal complaints that may arise from former or current employees or as part of their investigation.”

The bill will also permit the independent counsel to investigate issues outside of the capacity of the MOLC’s investigation, including hiring and promotion practices and workplace culture. 

In the report, the first complainant alleged improper hiring practices, promotions of employees rumored to have tolerated sexual advances and bullying that have not yet been investigated, according to the bill.

The issue of the investigation, as stated in Nadeau’s legislation, was that six out of eight of the allegations were outside of the scope of the investigation or unsubstantiated. This raised concern about the independence of investigations on mayoral-appointed personnel and agency heads. 

Another proposal, the Sexual Harassment Investigation Integrity Amendment Act of 2023, would require any future accusations against the executive branch of the D.C. government to be investigated by an independent investigator if passed. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Public Works and Operations with comments from the Committee on Executive Administration and Labor. A hearing will be held after the D.C. Council returns from summer recess.