Cook Co. (ECWd) -
It is clear we are in a time where emotions are driving the narrative on many issues and in some cases to a point of destroying peoples lives before any due process is afforded to those people. As it relates to sexual harassment, I think all will agree there is no place for it in our society. Most would also agree that any such allegations must be properly investigated and validated before action can be taken.
Sadly, that was not the case with a select political group of people in Maine Township.
In July of this year, the Maine Township Republican Woman's Club and Prominent local Republicans sent this letter to the Maine Township Republican Committeeman, Char Foss Eggemann as well as multiple other people in the state to include the Governor's Office. The letter was signed by multiple people to include Kimberly Jones, a Maine Township trustee who made certain allegations of harassment. The distributed letter signed by Jones claims the alleged harassment involved actual groping - ("In this case, the alleged harassment is actually groping"). It went on to demand their leadership condemn such behavior and call for the person's resignation, all before any investigation was completed.
Also contained in that letter is a statement pertaining to Kimberly Jones, the person who filed the complaint.
"Kim Jones has a stellar reputation in the community with 30 years of service in State and local government,"
Of interest in the letter is a signature of Kimberly Jones, the Maine Township Trustee who filed a Formal Complaint dated May 25th, 2018, that another trustees actions were unwelcome and of a harassing nature. The alleged harassment allegedly took place between January 23, 2018, and May 16, 2018.
Her words from the complaint:
- "chalked it up as being an inadvertent mistake."
- "BTW when we posed for the photo last night Dave touched my ass. I don't think it was intentional but I'm not sure."
- "Trustee Carrabotta again lightly swiped his hand across my bottom"
- "He swipes his hand across is(sic) gently as if it was inadvertent"
What kind of person signs a letter that was sent to multiple agencies to include the Illinois Governor's Office when the language in the letter is not consistent with the actual complaint? How did claims of inadvertent touches and swipes gently across her bottom morph into "actually groping".
Her signature on a letter making such a misrepresentation of the situation should raise concern with the claim of her having a stellar reputation. She never claimed in her complaint that there was actually groping so to sign a letter making such a claim may well be grounds for defamation.
And about now, before reading the actual investigative findings, there will be people screaming at us for calling out the conflicts and accuse us of siding with the only male voting member on the Maine Township Board. So there is no confusion, I will be the first to demand accountability for sexual harassment but only after the person has their due process rights met. I will not be a party to a lynch mob mentality, which appears to be what this statewide letter was from a few members of the Maine Republican Woman's Club and "Prominent" (whatever that means) local Republicans.
Once confronted by the accuser, the accused demanded a full investigation of the matter. In fact, there was no formal complaint even filed until after the demand for the investigation.
Below is a copy of the 27-page investigative findings that not only cleared the accused but exposed claims made by the Township Clerk Peter Gialamas that are not true according to the findings. More importantly may be the inaction by Clerk Gialamase in light of his statements in the investigation.
"He (Gialamas) has never known Trustee Jones to make anything up, so he believes that these incidents of inappropriate touching happened."
So we have a case where an elected official believes the incidents of inappropriate touching happened but does nothing about it?
The sexual harassment policy referenced in the investigation findings outlines the following:
"Specifically, Section III(B) provides that sexual harassment can be reported by someone other than the victim of the harassment."
Are we to understand Peter Gialamas actually believes the alleged incidents took place yet did not report the harassment? Why is there no demand for his resignation? What kind of person believes a crime is being committed yet does nothing to correct the wrong?
The Clerk's claim that other people said the accused was "handsy" was clearly refuted by the person alleged to have said them. So did the Clerk make this up and if so, why?
Regardless of the Clerks clear failure to report alleged sexual harassment, the accused has been cleared of all allegations.
The closing paragraph in the investigation report is most telling in light of Kimberly Jones signing her name to a letter alleging there was actual groping.
"Trustee Jones herself contemplates the possibility that any touchings were unintentional, which is why she tried to address this matter informally with Trustee Carrabotta initially without filing a formal complaint. Under these circumstances, we cannot find that a violation of the Township’s sexual harassment policy occurred. It is our strong recommendation that Trustee Jones and Trustee Carrabotta not be positioned next to one another in any future township photographs to avoid similar issues in the future."
The group of people that signed a letter and published it to numerous agencies statewide should be ashamed as doing so before any due process was followed tarnishes a persons name and reputation.
We suggest each and every person who signed that letter resign from any and all organizations or public bodies they are part of as it is clear they did not have all the facts before destroying a person's reputation.