EPA employees watched porn, harassed women, and got promoted

EPA employees watched porn, harassed women, and got promoted

In some circles, that would be called a trifecta.

Government watchdog investigations have found that at least two EPA employees who were caught watching porn and sexually harassing female co-workers were also awarded or promoted by the agency.

Furthermore, senior EPA officials largely ignored complaints by 16 women, mostly employees, who accused one official of sexual harassment. Despite these complaints, this employee actually got a promoted.

“If you sexually harass someone it appears you get a promotion,” New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney said during a House Oversight Committee hearing Thursday on misconduct within the EPA.

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“If someone makes a mistake … they are subject to heavy action” by the EPA, said Alabama Rep. Gary Palmer, a Republican. “Yet you have employees that are sexually abusive of women [and children] … yet no one was fired. They were put on paid administrative leave.”

“You’ve protected sexual perverts,” Palmer said, adding that the agency was “morally corrupt.”

Testifying before the committee, EPA inspector general Arthur Elkins said his staff found that agency employee Peter Jutro “engaged in offensive and inappropriate behavior toward at least 16 women, most of whom were EPA co-workers.” Worst of all, Elkins said, is that very senior EPA officials “were made aware of many of these actions and yet did nothing.”

Instead of Jutro’s being reprimanded, he was promoted to Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security where he “engaged in such behavior toward an additional six women,” Elkins said.

But that’s not all. EPA investigator Patrick Sullivan told Congress that the agency gave an employee who was caught viewing pornography at work “several performance awards, which included monetary awards ranging from $600 to $2,000 and a time-off award of 16 hours.” Sullivan testified:

The employee admitted that— for approximately 2 to 6 hours during his assigned work hours daily, over a period of ‘several years’—he had viewed and downloaded pornographic images on EPA computer equipment. The employee stated that much of his workday was devoted to organizing the downloaded pornography into saved folders.

The employee was actually caught viewing porn by an IG agent sent to interview him, and didn’t even think he was doing anything wrong. The IG’s office found 20,000 pron files on the employee’s computer, but the government opted not to prosecute the employee.

“On March 24, 2015, the EPA notified the OIG that the agency had proposed removal of the employee,” Sullivan said. “On April 22, 2015, the EPA notified the OIG that the employee had retired from federal service.”

Republican lawmakers have held hearings over the last two years highlighting cases where EPA employees were caught viewing pornography at work as well as the agency’s creation of a Homeland Security arm that has stymied internal investigations.

In 2014, the EPA inspector general’s office began investigating allegations into Jutro’s alleged sexual harassment. The agency watchdog found that senior level officials had not acted on any of complaints brought forward by 16 women. In one instance, Jutro made unwanted sexual advances towards “a 21-year-old female intern from the Smithsonian Institution.”

“The OIG determined that, in addition to his inappropriate behavior toward the intern, from 2004 through July 2014, Jutro engaged in conduct and exchanges considered to be unwelcome with 16 additional females,” Sullivan said.

But Jutro, was just the tip of the iceberg, according to the inspector general’s office. EPA IT specialist Thomas Manning was caught viewing child pornography and trying to delete it. Manning admitted to viewing and holding child pornography — which is a felony.

“On April 13, 2015, Mr. Manning was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release,” Sullivan said. “He was also ordered to pay restitution to identified victims in addition to a fine of $12,500.”

Another EPA employee that worked in the Office of the Administrator was caught viewing porn in April 2014 on a government computer “during work hours by a child who happened to be visiting during the EPA’s ‘Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day.’”

“The OIG immediately initiated an investigation into the violation of misuse of government time and resources,” Sullivan said, adding that the employee was put on administrative leave in May 2014.

“[T]he employee admitted that he viewed pornography at work between 1 to 4 hours per day,” Sullivan added. “In addition, he stated that approximately 30 to 40 percent of the data stored on his external electronic media devices contained pornography. Approximately 3,500 pornographic images were recovered from the employee’s laptop and external media.”

It wasn’t until a year later that the employee “had been proposed for removal” by the EPA.

EPA Acting Deputy Administrator Stanley Meiburg was there to defend the agency’s record, saying that “employees who engage in serious misconduct are not representative of the broader workforce.”

This report, by Michael Bastasch, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

 

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LU Staff

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