DOJ reveals name of ex-US attorney accused of sexual misconduct after BuzzFeed lawsuit

DOJ reveals name of ex-US attorney accused of sexual misconduct after BuzzFeed lawsuit
© Greg Nash

The Justice Department has revealed the name of a former U.S. attorney accused of misconduct after BuzzFeed News successfully sued for disclosure of his identity.

The Justice Department announced in May 2017 that the since-retired attorney had an affair with a subordinate, created a hostile work environment and possibly violated department policy on sexual harassment. A federal judge ruled in March that public interest superseded government officials’ right to privacy, forcing the Justice Department to disclose last week the attorney in question was Stephen Wigginton, who served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois from 2010 to 2015. Wigginton was also charged with driving under the influence and causing a car crash in 2017.

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In the March ruling, U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick ruled the Justice Department omitted key details in arguing Wigginton’s case only involved an “improper consensual relationship.”

“Instead, the improper relationship was so open and obvious that it caused employees within the Office to feel powerless, embarrassed, and distracted, and resulted in a work environment that some described as unbearable and hostile,” Broderick wrote. “In addition to work environment issues, the conduct had an impact on the operations of the Office since it resulted in disparate treatment regarding bonuses and disciplinary actions, and led some to avoid the U.S. Attorney and Supervisory AUSA at all costs.”

“Following the OIG’s investigation into this matter, the Department took appropriate steps to assess and address the issues outlined in the OIG’s report,” a Justice Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed. “The department has complete confidence in the new leadership and overall professionalism of the [US attorney’s office] in the Southern District of Illinois.”

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.