Department of Justice has a "systemic" sexual harassment problem, inspector general reports

Department of Justice is under fire due to a new report showing that sexual harassment complaints were mishandled

By Matthew Rozsa

Published December 27, 2017 10:00AM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A new report reveals that the Department of Justice, like so much of the rest of the country, has a major sexual harassment problem.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein about the prevalence of sexual harassment in the Justice Department on May 31, according to The Washington Post. His report found that supervisors in the Justice Department had not appropriately handled sexual harassment complaints and would sometimes even reward accused harassers with bonuses and performance awards. The number of accusations has increased steadily over the past five years, with incidents ranging from a U. S. attorney harassing a subordinate when a mutual sexual relationship ended and a Civil Division lawyer accused of groping two female trial attorneys, to a chief deputy U.S. marshal who had sex with "approximately" nine women in his government office.

"When employees engage in such misconduct, it profoundly affects the victim and affects the agency’s reputation, undermines the agency’s credibility, and lowers employee productivity and morale. Without strong action from the Department to ensure that DOJ employees meet the highest standards of conduct and accountability, the systemic issues we identified in our work may continue," Horowitz wrote to Rosenstein.

Rosenstein replied with a statement saying, "It is fortunate that there are relatively few substantiated incidents of sexual harassment, but even one incident is too many."

Although Horowitz's report was written before the Weinstein Effect prompted a massive national soul-searching about the epidemic of powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct, the new publicity surrounding it reflects just how much the cultural landscape has changed. Powerful corporations are now rigorously vetting potential CEOs to make sure there aren't accusations of sexual misconduct in their backgrounds that could prove embarrassing in the future, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Department Of Justice Sexual Harassment Sexual Harassment Cases