Young woman speaks out after report finds legislator violated ethics code by sending photo

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The young woman who received a lewd photo from Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell (D-29) is speaking out after a report found the legislator violated the county’s code of ethics.

Earlier this year, Flagler-Mitchell admitted he sent an inappropriate photo to a then 19-year-old woman last November. The county legislator said it was meant for his wife, and was sent to the woman on accident.

LaKaya Sinclair is calling on legislature Flagler-Mitchell to resign saying the ethics board investigation validates her claims of unwanted sexual harassment from the legislature and uncovered repeated unethical past behavior.

Sinclair says she trusted Flager-Mitchell during a difficult time in her life, after the mass shooting on Pennsylvania Avenue when two people were killed and 14 more were injured in one of the worst mass shootings in the city’s history.

Because of the county legislator, Sinclair claims she hasn’t able to properly grieve the tragedy. Sinclair says the evidence uncovered in the independent investigation including similar claims of sexual advances from 11 other woman, illustrates the need for further accountability for county officials.

“I risked everything in speaking out and certainly have paid a price. And while I am disappointed that I am the only one who spoke out publicly, and I stand here alone here today, I will continue to do so because we all deserve justice,” Sinclair said.

According to the ethics investigation, the young woman received a photo over Facebook Messenger of “an erect penis” last November.

According to the report, Flagler-Mitchell did not respond to efforts from the investigating team, so the report relied on interview summaries and materials from the Monroe County District Attorney’s office. Last month, officials from the district attorney’s office announced they would not file criminal charges in regards to the inappropriate photo.

The Monroe County Ethics Board resumed its own investigation into the incident, to which they concluded Thursday that Flagler-Mitchell did violate the county’s ethics code. Specifically, the board found that Flagler-Mitchell violated section 45-13 of the code in regards to Course of Conduct, which states:

“Every officer or employee should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust. He should not use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others. He should not by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties or that he is affected by the kinship, position or influence of any party or person.”

According to the investigative report, other woman reported receiving inappropriate photos from the county legislator:

The District Attorney’s investigative file revealed that approximately 11 other women have reported receiving inappropriate or explicit messages and photos from Mr. Flagler-Mitchell. The majority of these third-parties requested anonymity, and although some women identified themselves to the investigators, none will be identified by name in this report.

Flagler-Mitchell is currently the leader of the Black and Asian Caucus in the Monroe County Legislature. The Monroe County Democratic Caucus has called on Flagler-Mitchell to resign.

Monroe County Legislature Minority Leader Vincent Felder is questioning the integrity of the ethics reports, saying in a statement:

“At no time did Mr. Flagler represent himself as Ms. Sinclair’s Legislator or offer to help her with her financial aid…Therefore, the finding that he used his official position to attempt to secure an unwarranted privilege for himself is based on a false premise.” Legislator Felder is calling for the Ethics Board to be reformed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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