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Police Accountability Board head alleges suspension is retaliation for sexual harassment complaint

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The embattled executive director of the city’s fledgling Police Accountability Board says he believes he was suspended from his job in retaliation for reporting that his boss, the chair of the board, sexually harassed him.

Conor Dwyer Reynolds, who was suspended last month, lodged the allegation in an essay Tuesday that he penned on the online publishing platform Medium.

Reynolds wrote that the chair of the board, Shani Wilson, began harassing him within days of his starting as executive director in October 2020. A month into his time at the board, he wrote, Wilson showed up at his house, tried to get him to drink, and asked him to sleep with her.

He wrote that he kept quiet about the alleged harassment, which he claims included Wilson ordering him to end a romantic relationship, because he feared repercussions from Wilson and her political allies.

“I did not speak publicly about it because I knew what happens when victims speak out about abuse at the hands of the politically connected,” Reynolds wrote.

The board suspended Reynolds in May under unclear circumstances; city officials cited unspecified personnel issues. Reynolds had declined to comment in the following weeks, aside from saying that he hadn’t been given a reason for being relieved of his duties. He reiterated in the Medium essay that he still doesn’t know why he was let go.



Reynolds did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Wilson declined to comment on specific allegations, referring instead to a prepared statement.

“Mr. Dwyer-Reynolds has made allegations against me that are unequivocally false,” Wilson said. “I am cooperating with the investigation and am confident these retaliatory efforts will not impede the PAB’s progress in moving forward.”

In the Medium post, Reynolds alleged that Wilson turned board members against him after he told her that he’d be filing a sexual harassment complaint against her. He claimed that in multiple meetings with PAB leadership Wilson had laughed off his complaints. Other board members, he alleged, also dismissed his claims.

Reynolds wrote that he presented his allegations against Wilson to the board on May 5 and subsequently filed a complaint with the state Division of Human Rights. He was suspended by the city on May 13.

In his essay, Reynolds claimed his suspension came less than a week before the board was set to begin fielding complaints from the public about misconduct by police.

But the agency had not publicly set a start date for accepting complaints or notified members of City Council of its intention to do so when it placed Reynolds on leave. The board has since set a date of June 20 to begin taking complaints.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.

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