Allegations of lewd conduct at highest levels of ICE force leave of absence by chief of staff

posted at 11:21 am on August 15, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

It started with a lawsuit by an angry ICE director who claimed that Janet Napolitano’s personal relationship with Dora Shriro was the basis of a promotion to “special advisor’ that came at his expense, and who then began to be isolated by Napolitano in retaliation for his complaints.  Now two more ICE employees have come forward to allege sexual harassment and lewd conduct by a senior member of Napolitano’s ICE staff — and that has resulted in chief of staff Suzanne Barr’s leave of absence:

The top Homeland Security official accused of cultivating a “frat-house”-style work environment has “voluntarily placed herself on leave” amid an internal review, the department told FoxNews.com late Tuesday evening — just hours after FoxNews.com contacted the agency about new allegations against her.

The official, Suzanne Barr, is chief of staff for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Two more ICE employees came forward this week to complain about “lewd” conduct inside the agency, submitting sworn affidavits that depict graphic comments made by two top officials working under DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The suit by James Hayes, former director of ICE Detention and Removal Operations before Napolitano’s appointment in 2009, had also named Barr as an antagonist and harasser:

On one occasion, Barr called a colleague in his hotel room and screamed using sexually explicit language, telling him she ‘wanted his c*** in the back of [her] throat’.

Hayes claims he ‘felt that he was being targeted because of his gender’ and witnessed Barr repeatedly picking on men.

She ‘created a frat-house type atmosphere that is targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees’, according to court papers.

In 2009 she ‘removed the entire contents of the offices of three male employees, including nameplates, computers and telephones, to the men’s bathroom at ICE headquarters’.

The new affidavits contain further allegations of sexual harassment:

In the newly emerging affidavits, one of the employees claimed that in October 2009, while in a discussion about Halloween plans, the individual witnessed Barr turn to a senior ICE employee and say: “You a sexy” (expletive deleted).

“She then looked at his crotch and asked, ‘How long is it anyway?’” according to the affidavit.

“Several employees laughed nervously,” the affidavit said. The names of the workers making the claims have been redacted.

Until now, the Department of Homeland Security has insisted that Hayes’ allegations were “unfounded.”  Shriro has already left ICE and now works in the New York City Department of Correction, Fox reports.  Neither Shriro or Barr are named as co-defendants in the suit, but both can be certain that they will end up being deposed at the very least by attorneys for both sides.  This looks like an ugly affair already, and we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg.  With Barr on leave, more ICE employees may feel encouraged to come forward.


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