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Watchdog finds FBI official sexually harassed 8 women

Watchdog finds FBI official sexually harassed 8 women
© Greg Nash

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog reportedly concluded that a former special agent who led the FBI's field office in Albany, N.Y., sexually harassed eight female subordinates.

James Hendricks quietly retired last year from his position as special agent in charge after the Office of Inspector General (OIG) finished its investigation, The Associated Press reported Monday, citing a newly released federal report that it obtained.

The article comes a few months after the AP published an investigation into reports of senior FBI officials who had been accused of sexual harassment avoiding disciplinary action. Among the officials named in that article was Hendricks.

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The AP on Monday reported that while Hendricks left the FBI after the Office of Inspector General's investigation, his name was redacted from the OIG report.

In a 52-page report obtained by the AP, the OIG outlined details of Hendricks’s conduct. The wire service noted that while the OIG blacked out Hendricks’s name, he was identified by law enforcement officials familiar with his case.

Colleagues at the FBI’s field office in Albany, according to the OIG report, described Hendricks as a “skilled predator” who ogled at women in the office, touched them inappropriately and asked one of them to have sex in the conference room.

The report, which is based on interviews with more than a dozen FBI officials, found that Hendricks’s misconduct relates back to his time at FBI headquarters, where he was a section chief in the Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, according to the AP.

In 2018, Hendricks was selected to lead the Albany field office, where he oversaw a team of more than 200 agents and other FBI employees, the AP reported.

Six of Hendricks’s accusers were in Albany, and two were in Washington, the wire service reported.

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Some colleagues, according to the AP, characterized Hendricks’s actions as him being a “Southern gentleman.” He spent time in western Kentucky as a police officer before joining the FBI in 1998.

Others, however, said he regularly crossed the line and was “super giddy” around women and “incapable of stopping himself” from harassing them, the AP reported.

According to the report cited by the AP, Hendricks would shift his “body posture and head angle to stare at their breasts and bodies in a manner that was calculated to avoid detection,” and he once asked a female subordinate to take a seat in the passenger seat of a vehicle “so that I can play with that beautiful hair.”

Another woman told investigators that Hendricks pressured her into having a sexual relationship with him. The OIG report also said Hendricks was known to be vindictive and “push out” people who opposed him.

Co-workers reportedly told investigators that Hendricks surrounded himself with a “harem” of attractive women. They added that he was fixated on high heels and breasts, and would stare at female agents as they walked down the hallway.

In a statement to The Hill, the FBI said that the bureau "maintains a zero tolerance policy toward sexual harassment, and is committed to fostering a safe work environment where all of our employees are valued, protected and respected."