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FEMA personnel chief under investigation for widespread sexual harassment

FEMA personnel chief under investigation for widespread sexual harassment

The recently departed head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) human resources department is under investigation for allegedly enabling sexual harassment in the agency over the course of several years.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long told The Washington Post that a seven-month investigation found Corey Coleman, who led the agency’s personnel department since 2011, hired dozens of friends and college fraternity brothers, as well as women he met at bars and through online dating sites. 

Coleman promoted the individuals without going through the proper channels, and in some cases promoted or transferred women throughout the agency so his friends could try to have sexual relationships with them, a FEMA official told The Washington Post. 

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The internal investigation, which concluded Friday, also found that Coleman had sexual relationships with two subordinates. One took place in 2015, and another began in 2017 and continued into this year, the Post reported. 

Coleman resigned from his position last month, and could not be reached for comment about the allegations, according to the report.

Shortly after The Washington Post published details of the allegations, Long issued a statement that included plans to address employee misconduct within the agency.

The findings against Coleman, he said, "leave me no choice but to take decisive action to address lapses in professional responsibility, including requesting further investigation by the DHS Office of the Inspector General."

"These allegations are deeply disturbing and harassment of any kind will not be tolerated at FEMA," Long said.

Long said the agency would establish an Office of Professional Responsibility to adjudicate misconduct allegations, provide counseling services and conduct a third-party examination of FEMA's sexual harassment review process.

In addition, all FEMA employees will be required to complete third-party, in-person sexual harassment prevention training, Long said.

Long was confirmed to serve as the FEMA administrator in June 2017. He told the Post that one woman complained directly to him that Coleman had sexually harassed her, which led to the start of the internal investigation.

Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsIncoming N.J. Dem lawmaker says she won't vote for Pelosi as Speaker The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Dems prepare to aggressively wield new oversight powers House Dems preview plans to flex oversight muscles MORE (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a statement that coincided with The Washington Post report calling for the committee to hold hearings on the FEMA report.

Mike Lillis contributed.

Updated at 4:35 p.m.