Rep. Esty apologizes for not protecting threatened employee - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Rep. Esty apologizes for not protecting threatened employee

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Rep. Elizabeth Esty (WFSB) Rep. Elizabeth Esty (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

An employee for Rep. Elizabeth Esty was threatened and harassed by a former chief of staff.

Tony Baker was eventually fired.

Now that the news was reported, Esty issued an apology.

"In the spring of 2016, I was horrified and angry to learn that a promising, dedicated former employee of mine was harassed and harmed by my then (now former) chief of staff," Esty wrote on Facebook. "I am sorry that I failed to protect her and provide her with the safe and respectful work environment that every employee deserves."

Esty’s office confirmed that the abuse started after Baker and a female staffer started a relationship in 2014.

During the course of it, Baker allegedly got physical, punching the woman in the back, calling her incessantly and leaving voicemails, threatening to kill her.

Esty’s office confirmed the congresswoman found out within a week and started her own investigation, that revealed Baker’s abuse was “not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of behavior that victimized many of the women on my staff.”

Baker would hold his job for another three months before leaving, and on top of that, Esty signed a non-disclosure agreement, that prevented her from discussing Baker’s departure.

Esty and Baker also co-wrote a recommendation letter, and by looking at his Facebook profile, Baker soon found himself working at the Sandy Hook Promise Ohio location. 

Channel 3 was told that Baker was given a $5,000 severance. However, Esty said she repaid that money to the government.

"To this survivor, and to anyone else on my team who was hurt by my failure to see what was going on in my office, I am so sorry," she wrote. "I’ve asked myself over and over again, how did I not see this? How could I have let down so many people?"

On Friday, calls for her resignation were ringing throughout the state, including her opponent Manny Santos.

When asked what he would do in her shoes, Senator Richard Blumenthal said "She needs to talk to her constituents. I’m still learning all the facts, I need to learn more."

Congressman Joe Courtney said "I am disappointed with the way this situation was handled. Whether abuse is taking place in the private sector or in a government office, there is no question that the needs of victims must be put first. The internal process that took place in this situation clearly did not live up to that standard."

In a statement, the AFL-CIO said "Once again the CT GOP is duplicitous. Not once have they or any of their leadership called on President Trump to resign following any of the dozens of stories, settlements and NDA’s as a result of his actions over the past 18 months. So, now from their island of hypocrisy they are calling on Congresswoman Esty to resign. To borrow a phrase, I say, “BS. The Congresswoman gave a detailed explanation of the situation and apologized. Congresswoman Esty has been and will continue to be a fierce advocate for working women and their families as her exemplary AFL-CIO voting record shows. In order to achieve real change in the  workplace, working women need to have an efficient way to join together in a union and gain collective power.”

A Connecticut women's and victim advocate, Donna Palomba, is weighing in on the controversy. Palomba, of Waterbury, founded "Jane Doe No More" years after she was sexually assaulted. Jane Doe No More encourages victims to come forward.

Palomba said "Our political leaders are in a position of power and we entrust them to advocate on our behalf. It takes courage to speak up and report abused and I applaud Anna Kain. We must start by believing the victim and take immediate action to protect them from further harm. If recent reports are accurate, that was not done in this case and it is wrong and should not be tolerated." 

On Friday afternoon, Esty maintained that she will not resign, saying she looks forward to strengthening workplace protections.

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