Emails obtained through open records requests show Mayor Lovely Warren knew about sexual harassment allegations against Cedric Alexander before he was hired.
Alexander was previously the public safety director for Dekalb County, Georgia. Lt. Consuela Howard filed a complaint with human resources in 2015 alleging that Alexander retaliated against her when she refused his romantic advances. Howard was hailed as a hero after a school shooting.
The internal investigation, which relied on written questionnaires, found the allegations that Alexander made advances toward Howard were unprovable. The allegations of retaliation were found to be without merit. The investigation was detailed in a 166-page report.
Howard told Rochester for All she believes the investigation was rigged. She said investigators never followed up with her after her initial statement. She noted they never asked to speak with any of her friends or family who could support her version of events.
Rochester for All became aware of the prior complaint through an anonymous tipster, who provided a copy of an email sent to Warren and City Council alerting them to Howard’s complaint. The email was from former Dekalb County Major Karen Anderson, who worked with Howard.
Anderson’s email was sent on December 18 at 1:57 p.m. Warren responded the same day at 10:27 p.m.
I am in receipt of your email that alleges misconduct by a current employee of the City of Rochester. Rest assured, that prior to accepting employment here at the City of Rochester Dr. Alexander fully disclosed the allegations set forth in your email. Thus, I had time to thoroughly review the documents associated with the allegation and its findings. Dekalb County’s human resources department researched and investigated the allegations and found them to be without merit. I have attached the findings for your review.
Lovely A. Warren, Esq.
Warren attached the four-page summary of the internal report. It’s not clear if the city had in its possession the full 166-page report. If the city had shared the report with City Council or requested it from Dekalb County, it should have been covered in our Freedom of Information request, which asked for all correspondence related to Anderson and Howard.
City Council President Loretta Scott also received Anderson’s email. On December 26, more than a week after the email was sent, Scott forwarded it to council members, Warren and the Office of Public Integrity Director Tim Weir. She included her response to Anderson, which read:
Dear Dr. Anderson,
Please be advised that City Council is in receipt of your email. The attached letter will be forwarded to the City of Rochester’s Office of Public Integrity for review. The Deputy Mayor reports directly to the Mayor and I am, by copy of this message, notifying her of this action. I am confident that you will hear from Mayor Warren regarding the letter that you sent.
Thank you for contacting our office and bringing this matter to our attention.
Loretta C. Scott
It doesn’t appear Scott knew that Warren had already responded to Anderson. It also doesn’t appear Scott had been previously aware of Howard’s complaint. Given her response, one can assume if Scott had known about Howard’s complaint, she would have already informed City Council and Weir. Weir doesn’t have the power to investigate things that happened in Georgia, so it’s not clear what he could have done to address the situation.
Howard told Rochester for All no one from the City of Rochester had ever called her to ask about the allegations. Anderson said she got a call from a Democrat and Chronicle reporter about the same time as we received the tip. But she said the reporter never followed up.
City spokesman James Smith declined to answer questions for our initial report. Smith did, however, contact at least one Rochester news outlet in advance of our report to downplay the allegations.
After we published the report, only one news outlet accepted our offer to provide Howard’s phone number. So far, no media outlet has covered Howard’s complaint.
It can now be said with certainty that Warren, City Council and the media ignored serious allegations against Alexander, as well as Dekalb County’s flawed investigation into his conduct.
Author: Rachel Barnhart