Youngstown leaders question sexual harassment allegations agains - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Youngstown leaders question sexual harassment allegations against mayoral candidate

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DeMaine Kitchen DeMaine Kitchen
Lindsey Hughes Lindsey Hughes

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - At the end of Youngstown's City Council meeting Wednesday evening, city leaders went into executive session to discuss what they call a "matter of employment."

Each council member received a letter last week, accusing independent candidate for mayor, DeMaine Kitchen of sexual harassment against downtown event director Lyndsey Hughes.

The letter details a July 2, 2013 meeting in Hughes' office with Kitchen as they discussed the upcoming Jazz Festival.

It said "He then smoothed his trouser to show Ms. Hughes his attraction." The letter also says that Hughes told Kitchen to stop.

The letter states Kitchen then sent Hughes a series of text messages, and that Hughes ignored him.

Mayor Chuck Sammarone tells 21 news he does not wish to comment on the letter, because he believes it is not accurate.

The letter refers to a July 24, 2013 closed door session, when council called for the four day suspension of Lyndsey Hughes.  The letter claims that Kitchen was present at the meeting.

Mayor Sammarone and a member of council say that's not true. "Absolutely not. He wasn't at that meeting." said first ward council member Annie Gillam

And while the letter claims the suspension was a retaliation to Hughes' complaints of harassment, City Law Director Anthony Farris says he didn't learn about the harassment until after Hughes was suspended.

"Her then lawyer sent a letter indicating why she shouldn't have been suspended and one of the reasons listed was that there were also sexual harassment issues." said Farris.

Councilwoman Gillam is one of three officers with the Mahoning Democratic Party who made headlines last month for crossing party lines to support Kitchen in his Independent run for mayor.

The latest allegations have not wavered that support.

"Until you're proven guilty, you're supposed to be innocent. And yes, I'm still supporting DeMaine Kitchen. I think he would be good for our community." said Gillam.

Meanwhile, Kitchen, who has taken a leave of absence from his job as Mayor Sammarone's Chief of Staff, denies the allegations and says he has no intention of dropping out of the race for mayor.

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