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Copy of report from state investigation of William Christoffel

June 25, 2006

Editor's note: The following report by an investigator for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Office of Employment Equity Unit was prepared following an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Washington County Health Officer William Christoffel.

This report has been edited to remove the identity of the person making the original complaint. Readers should be advised that some language might be offensive.

I. Introduction

On or about May 18, 2006, the Community Health Administration (CHA) Director contacted the Office of Community Relations (OCR) Director to report that CHA had received an unsigned letter and subsequent telephone contact from (an employee of the Comstock Center, a Johns Hopkins University research center based at the Washington County Health Department). The complaint alleged that the WCHD Health Officer was engaging in sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment for the Johns Hopkins University Research group (JHU) and WCHD staff.

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II. Summary of complainants' allegations and respondent's responses

Several of the JHU employees at WCHD reported having been present when the WCHD Health Officer (HO) put a condom in the hand of their director. They also complained that the Health Officer has made remarks they found to be sexually explicit and offensive. Specifically, he stated that he engaged in masturbation on a public highway.

The HO admitted putting the condom in the hand of the JHU Director as a "joke." He stated they regularly discuss condoms WCHD due to the high level of teen pregnancies in Washington County. He also admitted making specific, sexually explicit remarks that the JHU employees reported during the investigation.

The Director and another JHU employee stated that they witnessed the Health Officer fondling a piece of fruit both in his hands and after he laid it in his lap/crotch, while talking with the Director.

The HO was not asked whether he engaged in the fondling incident.

One WCHD employee complained that the health officer often hugs a specific female in the hallway and visits this same female several times per day, as well as has her come to his office for 45 minutes or more from time to time. An additional WCHD employee complained that she heard bantering between the HO and the subject female employee that sounded as if they were engaging in a sexual relationship, as well as witnessed them hugging.

The HO admitted to hugging a particular female whom he regards as a friend and occasionally visits. He further stated that the hug constitutes his arm being placed around the subject female employee's shoulders.

Members of the Washington County School Board reported that the HO put condoms on the table while having lunch with a member of the school board.

The HO admitted putting the condoms on the table during a lunch meeting and stated that it was intended to make the moment light as they were scheduled to discuss the distribution of condoms to teen students in the Washington County Schools.

A WCHD employee stated that the HO told him that one of the female employees had the most attractive posterior (a..) he had ever seen.

The HO stated "I probably did say this." He then went on to identify the person who made this report during the investigation. He further stated that this employee has engaged in inappropriate conversations with him and other males regarding women.

The JHU Research group reported that the HO served as the speaker on obesity at a JHU Symposium. The HO reported that the women in Washington County are obese and poor.

The HO admits that he reported on the fact that females in Washington County are obese. He stated the way he made that determination without county or state statistics was based upon an interview with a buyer for Hecht Company. The buyer advised him that you need only look at the cloths that the stores stock to determine the size of the women in the county. The HO stated that he chose to look at the under garments of females to arrive at his conclusions regarding obesity in Washington County and thus he explained this to the symposium attendees.

A Washington County Board of Education member stated that during an interview, the HO told a school board official that he saw a teacher at a school meeting dressed in a short or mini skirt, very high heel shoes and wearing a low cut top, but she was "good eye candy".

The HO admitted that he made the "good eye candy" remark. He stated that he complained because 5th grade boys were part of the audience at the function that he attended and he felt they were watching this teacher.

The JHU Research Director further stated that the HO stated to her that she looked professional one day and added "I like you better when you dress like a slut."

The HO stated that he does not recall making the statement regarding the slut. He further stated that he might have paid her a compliment.

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