Multiple former employees say ex-Cato Institute chief sexually harassed them: report

Cato Institute President Emeritus and co-founder Ed Crane has been accused by three former employees of sexual harassment and settled an additional lawsuit related to sexual harassment in 2012, Politico reported Thursday.

The women who worked for the libertarian think tank told Politico that Crane was guilty of a wide range of inappropriate behavior, including asking one to take off her bra, sending another an inappropriate email about breast augmentation and comparing a third woman to pornographic images on his computer.

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In addition, a lawyer for one of the women said that Crane settled an additional lawsuit related to sexual harassment in 2012. Crane declined to comment on the settlement, and denied other claims made by the women.

The allegations stem back into the 1990s, when one former employee says Crane made "dozens" of inappropriate sexual comments to her that she reported to another senior official at the institute. Crane's behavior did not change, she says.

Crane left the organization in 2012, but as president emeritus received an annual salary of $400,000 for several years afterwards. 

That employee was 25 at the time; Crane, now 73, was in his 50s. The same employee told Politico that Crane would often make inappropriate comments about women who visited the institute's Washington, D.C., offices to other employees.

“There’d be people who’d walk in and he’d say, ‘Doesn’t she have great legs?’” the former employee said.

One male former employe who worked at Cato starting in 1999 corroborated her account, recalling an incident that occurred when a female contractor visited the office.

“I can remember once we had a contractor come in to present this idea for an issues campaign. And literally the minute she left he turned to all the men in the room and went ‘Man, I’d love to have her sit on my face,’” the former employee said.

Peter Goettler, Cato's current president, also declined to comment on the allegations in a statement to Politico.