- PHOTO BY REBECCA RAFFERTY
- LaKaya Sinclair, who accused Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell of sexual harassment, calls for him to resign amid a county Ethics Board finding that his behavior was inappropriate.
The 20-year-old woman, LaKaya Sinclair, recounted the harassment she says she received from the legislator after he offered his support following deadly shootings at her home on Pennsylvania Avenue during a house party in September.
“I thought I could count on my county legislator when he reached out to me, but Ernest Flagler-Mitchell did nothing but make my life hell,” Sinclair said. “My trust was met with unwanted sexual advances by Ernest — not a flirtation, not a miscommunication, but a picture of him masturbating. Because of him, I haven't even been able to grieve the violent tragedy that took place at my home.”
Her comments followed a finding Thursday by the county Board of Ethics that Flagler-Mitchell violated the ethics code when he sent a lewd photo to Sinclair in a Facebook message, and that the incident was “consistent with a pattern of similar behavior.”
Flagler-Mitchell, who was first elected to office in 2014 and is facing a Democratic primary challenge this month from social worker William Burgess, has acknowledged sending the photo but has said that it was intended for his wife.
In its report on the matter, the Ethics Board wrote that Flagler-Mitchell’s explanation “lacks credibility,” and pointed to findings by the District Attorney’s Office that 11 other women have complained of receiving inappropriate or explicit messages and photos from the legislator.
District Attorney Sandra Doorley last month determined that Flagler-Mitchell’s behavior in the case of Sinclair was not criminal, but turned her files over to the Board of Ethics for review.
What penalties, if any, Flagler-Mitchell might face is unclear. The ethics code spells out that a legislator found to have violated the code could be fined, suspended, or removed from office, but is not specific on how any of those punishments might be enforced.
“I called for Ernest Flagler-Mitchell’s resignation at the start, and I call for it today,” Sinclair said.
Flagler-Mitchell has not returned messages left for him since the Ethics Board ruling was made public. His supporters have called the finding of the board politically-motivated.
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Rebecca Rafferty is CITY's life editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.