After another woman accused him of inappropriate conduct, Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell on June 10 sent a statement that denied the allegations and asserted he would continue to serve the people of his district.
However, calls for Flagler-Mitchell to resign intensified – including a public statement from the Republican majority in the legislature – after release of a complaint from a woman who said Flagler-Mitchell sexually harassed her.
Monroe County Legislature President Dr. Joe Carbone said in the statement June 10 that the Republicans “worked behind the scenes to encourage Legislator Flagler-Mitchell to resign in an effort to not further politicize the accounts of the brave individuals who came forward in this matter. After being unsuccessful in our attempts, we are today publicly calling for his resignation. Sexual harassment of any form should not be tolerated. These most recent allegations involving misconduct on county property are especially troubling and warrant resignation.”
Besides the Democratic Caucus in the Monroe County Legislature, Democratic County Executive Adam Bello, U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle and State Assemblyman Harry Bronson are among elected officials calling for Flagler-Mitchell to step down.
On June 11, Flagler-Mitchell announced he is temporarily stepping down as leader of the Black and Asian Democratic Caucus. Calvin Lee Jr. will serve as acting leader.
On June 10, he had released a statement through the Black and Asian Democratic Caucus about the allegations. He wrote:
“These allegations against me are not true. I have always been one to help people who call on me and I attempted to do so in this instance. Unfortunately, we were unable to resolve this individual’s situation favorably and now she has launched false allegations against me. I have always been one to admit my shortcomings and today will be no different.
“As in any marriage, I have experienced ups and downs. Regretfully, I have had moments of infidelity. These are personal matters that my wife and I continue to work through. I have never promised anything in return for favors nor used my position for anything other than serving the people of my district and that’s what I will continue to do. I request that you respect my family’s privacy during this difficult time.”
In the most recent complaint, which was filed with the state Division of Human Rights, a woman said she contacted Flagler-Mitchell from August to October 2020 for help with a case involving Child Protective Services. She said in October, Flagler-Mitchell invited her to his office at the County Office Building, closed the door and started to talk in a sexual manner. She said she recorded the encounter.
The complaint was first referred to June 10 during a news conference held by some sitting Democrats and some candidates for legislative office. The complaint was sent to the media later in the day by the Democratic Caucus.
The complaint could open the legislature to legal action – and taxpayer expense – and a letter from the county attorney to Carbone suggested the legislature retain a lawyer.
The woman, whose name was redacted from the complaint, was said to be the 13th who accused the legislator of inappropriate behavior. A report from the Office of District Attorney Sandra Doorley showed 12 other women reported misconduct. So far only one, Lakaya Sinclair, has spoken publicly about the allegations.
During their news conference June 10, Democratic Minority Leader Yversha Roman and other Democratic members of the legislature renewed their calls for ethics reform. They said a proposal has been on the table for months, but the supermajority – made up of 15 Republicans and four members of the Black and Asian Democratic Caucus (Democrat Vince Felder often aligns with that caucus) have blocked any movement.
Flagler-Mitchell represents the 29th District and faces a primary challenger.