EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A debate is underway over who will foot the bill for a sexual harassment lawsuit against East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo.
“I think Joe should take care of this on his own,” East Haven resident Angelo Baldino said.
Maturo’s secretary claims she was sexually harassed by him. In a complaint filed with the State’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities the woman said she was subjected to a hostile environment and the sexual harassment went on continuously for years. Maturo’s attorney, Hugh Keefe, is being paid from a town account that’s funded by the taxpayers. The lawyer representing the town’s interest will also get paid out of the same fund.
According to the New Haven Register, town officials and taxpayers question whether the town should be financially responsible for the mayor’s legal representation.
“That’s not really fair,” Brianna Murphy of East Haven said. “I mean, if he did it, it should come out of his own pocket. I should not be paying for it.”
Even with the accusations against Mayor Maturo, some East Haven residents have mixed opinions. “I do like him, and I’m sorry that this happened to him,” Susan Glossa said, “but like I said If you are guilty you have to pay the price.”
“I think he needs to resign,” Mindy Anastasio said.
ORIGINAL STORY: East Haven mayor’s secretary charges sexual harassment
East Haven residents tell us they shouldn’t be stuck with the legal fees.
“We should not be paying,” Chris Apotrias said. “We are paying enough taxes as it is. We should not get suck with his paying for his lawyer fees.”
“We are paying our taxes,” Glossa said. “Why should our taxes be raised to pay for his bill for his attorneys fees that he did something wrong or accused of doing something wrong.
The matter may be addressed tonight at the monthly town council meeting, which is scheduled to start tonight at 7 p.m. at the East Haven Senior Center.
The following is a statement from East Haven’s town attorney, Joseph Zullo:
“Mayor Maturo is receiving the same level and quality of representation that all East Haven Town officials have traditionally enjoyed. In fact, every employee and official in the Town’s history who has been named in a civil complaint against the Town has been provided a defense paid for by the Town precisely because we have clear interest in defending claims which seek monetary damages from the Town. Specifically, the Town’s payment of defense costs for its employees is logical because it ensures that we can carefully control and supervise the manner in which our Town and our officials are defended.
State statute envisions and supports the Town’s policy. Specifically, C.G.S. Sec. 7-101a et seq. requires Towns to provide and pay for the defense of Town employees and officials with regard to claims made against them. It is only after a final determination at trial, if an official or employee is deemed to have committed willful, wanton, or malicious acts, that a Town may shield itself from paying a judgment on behalf of that individual or look to that official for reimbursement of attorney’s fees.
As a result, it would be contrary to law and would significantly jeopardize the Town’s legal interests to force any official or employee to obtain and pay for legal counsel to defend claims seeking monetary damages from the Town.