Sexual Harassment Cover-Up
By EVAN GAHR
The affair ended. The abuse began. The cover-up for years and years ensued.
New York State Psychiatric Institute officials continually ignored a clinic worker’s complaints about sexual harassment by a co-worker because she once slept with him, her federal lawsuit claims.
The man also allegedly made sexually laden anti-Semitic remarks to another employee of the Audobon Clinic, an in-patient facility run by the New York State Psychiatric Institute, a division of Columbia University.
Erica Dratte has worked at the Audobon Clinic as a “Mental Hygiene Therapy Aid” since around 1996, her lawsuit says. In 1997, she “began a romantic relationship” with a co-worker, Kwame El. He got her pregnant and she had an abortion.
Around 1998, Dratte broke off the relationship with El. That is when the years of verbal abuse allegedly started. “Immediately thereafter, Kwame El began to sexually harass Plaintiff.”
He told her, “You have a pretty little pussy” and “Remember that time we were in the bathroom and I had you against the shower.”
Dratte complained to her supervisors in 1999 but they poo-poohed her concerns again and again. Dr. Stephanie Lemelle “simply told plaintiff that she (Plaintiff) had been in a relationship with Kwame El and ‘should know how he is.’”
In 2001, after El exposed his penis to Dratte she complained to a different supervisor, Dr Pelligrino Sarti. El was transferred to another clinic but in 2003 he was transferred back to the Audobon Clinic, where Dratte worked.
After another employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against him in 2005 El was again transferred to a different clinic.
But in 2007, he was back at the Audobon Clinic and unleashing more abuse on Dratte--commenting on her physical appearance and complaining “You should have never have killed my baby.”
The lawsuit claims that El “would also make sexually harassing remarks about other female employees.”
In 2012, he allegedly told another coworker, Laura Panitz that “she needs to be fucked” and “because she is Jewish she wears long skirts to cover up that she is a freak.”
Dratte and Panitz complained to New York State Psychiatric Institute clinical director David Lowenthal but got nowhere, the lawsuit says. Lowenthal did nothing to “remedy the harassment and/or prevent future harassment.”
El made more crude remarks to Dratte. He told her, “All women want me because I am a big black man” and “all white women want a black man.”
Dratte complained to another New York State Psychiatric Institute official, affirmative action office Petrocinia Ibanez-Murillo. She said El should have been “fired a long time ago” but Dratte should just be thankful she “’wasn’t harmed from this situation.’”
Dratte sued the New York State Psychiatric Institute in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York last month for illegal discrimination based on gender.
The lawsuit asks for “compensatory damages for mental, emotional and physical injury, distress pain and suffering and injury to reputation.”
New York State Psychiatric Institute director David Lowenthal did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did New York State Psychiatric Institute director Jeffrey Lieberman
Evan Gahr, a former press critic for the late New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel, has written for almost every major conservative publication. His reporting has been picked up by the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, New York Times and Page Six. He recently broke the story of sexual harassment at the Family Research Council.