The mayor of East Haven, Connecticut, Joseph Maturo, Jr., is facing political fallout after a $175,000 settlement paid to a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment. The woman, Francine Carbone, held the position of assistant to the town’s director of housing and urban renewal. She filed the complaint in July 2014 and was fired that October.
Carbone began working for the town in 1997 – the same year that Maturo won his first election - and her lawsuit states that Maturo sexually harassed her from the beginning. In her complaint, Carbone alleged that Maturo commented about the weight of her breasts, grabbed his crotch in front of her, made a sexual comment when she was bending over and exposed himself.
Her complaint alleges that the East Haven chief of police and town attorney both witnessed the mayor’s behavior, and the police chief told Maturo his behavior constituted sexual harassment.
Money and Medical Benefits
Besides the money, the settlement includes medical benefits for Carbone and her husband until she reaches age 65, benefits she would have received had her employment not been terminated.
Carbone’s suit had sought reinstatement in her previous position along with back pay and benefits. The town attorney said the settlement was a compromise, and Carbone’s lawsuit had “threatened to drain the town’s coffers.”
Still Denying the Accusations
Meanwhile, Maturo still denies Carbon’s accusations. However, after the settlement, three more women came forward to accuse Maturo of sexual harassment. Two of the women worked for the town, while one woman campaigned against Maturo during the 2011 election. Maturo referred to these women as “disgruntled … employees with axes to grind” or “partisan enemies.” While none of the women have yet filed a formal complaint or a lawsuit, one of them is planning to meet with Carbone’s attorney.
Revolt from Residents
Maturo, a Republican, is receiving pushback from Democratic members of the town council, who have demanded his resignation, but it’s also coming from constituents. During public hearings, residents have also demanded Maturo’s resignation, as well as requesting that he personally pay for the settlement. An online petition has over 430 signatures making the same demands. Republican members of the council are standing by Maturo, for now.
One Republican councilwoman compared Maturo to Donald Trump, saying the same people who want Maturo to resign are the same ones who want to impeach Trump. There is one Republican exception among the council members, however. He said he’s gotten a lot of calls from constituents who aren’t happy about having to pay for the settlement, and this councilman agreed that what happened with the lawsuit “wasn’t right.”
Meanwhile, the local newspaper filed a Freedom of Information request regarding how much money the town has spent defending Maturo over the past few years. The amount it cost taxpayers to defend the mayor is nearly as much as the Carbone settlement - $171,600. Maturo’s response? “Fake news.”
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