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Former FEMA Personnel Chief Accused Of Harassment

The former head of human resources at the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct — including allegations that he hired women at FEMA as potential sexual partners for friends of his, according to The Washington Post.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long released a statement acknowledging "deeply disturbing" allegations of sexual misconduct by a former head of personnel at FEMA, without naming the individual.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member of the House committee on oversight and government reform, said in a statement that FEMA's internal investigation showed the official "abused his subordinates by demanding sexual favors and then punishing or rewarding employees based on whether they complied with or rejected his demands."

The Washington Post first reported on the scandal, citing an executive summary of an internal FEMA investigation as well as anonymous sources within FEMA.

The newspaper identified the personnel chief as Corey Coleman, who resigned in June 18, before that internal investigation was completed.

Coleman has been in charge of human capital at FEMA for several years, according to his former agency biography.

As the head of HR at FEMA, he led the office that handled reports of inappropriate or harassing workplace behavior.

The Post reports:

"In an interview, [FEMA Administrator William "Brock"] Long described a 'toxic' environment in the human resources department Coleman had led at FEMA headquarters, hiring dozens of men who were friends and college fraternity brothers and women he met at bars and on online dating sites — then promoting them to roles throughout the agency without going through proper federal hiring channels.

"Coleman then transferred some of the women in and out of departments, some to regional offices, so his friends could try to have sexual relationships with them, according to statements and interviews with employees, said a FEMA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

" 'What we uncovered was a systemic problem going back years,' Long said."

In the statement released on Monday afternoon, Long promised to enact a number of policy changes, including creating an Office of Professional Responsibility, reviewing the handling of harassment allegations and initiating mandatory sexual harassment training.

"Employees at FEMA devote their careers to caring for disaster survivors in their time of greatest need," Long wrote. "We must care for our own with the same respect, compassion, and advocacy that we bring to our external operations. "

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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