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The city has paid a $98,000 settlement to a former staff member at Astoria’s Community Board 1 who had filed a lawsuit that accused former district manager George Delis of sexually harassing her during her three-year stint at the board’s office, a spokeswoman for the city Law Department said.
The suit, which was filed by one-time CB 1 staffer Marcela Gutierrez in June at Brooklyn’s federal court, also named Borough President Helen Marshall, whose office has a supervisory relationship with community boards, and Vinicio Donato, the board’s chairman, as defendants.
But Delis, who retired in 2008 after 30 years as CB 1’s district manager, said he was infuriated that the case never went to trial.
“I was outraged how easily they give away taxpayer money,” he said. “If she’d sued me personally, it would have gone to trial. She had no case. So that’s why she sued the city. It leaves the impression I’m guilty. It’s outrageous.”
In the suit, Gutierrez claimed she quit her $24,000-per-year job as a receptionist in December 2007 because Delis had allegedly referred to her as a “hooker” and a “lesbian” as well as bragging about his sexual conquests and prowess. The former district manager was also accused of inviting Gutierrez to watch pornographic films with him, according to the suit.
The city settled last week with Gutierrez, paying her $98,000, a spokeswoman with the city Law Department said.
“This settlement was in the best interest of all the parties,” she said.
The spokeswoman said the payout was not a decision by a judge but a settlement and that, as part of an agreement, the plaintiff must withdraw her claims against the individual defendants.
“On many occasions, [Gutierrez] had come to me and complained about [Delis’] abusive language to her and reference to her sexual preference,” Donato said last year during a hearing on Gutierrez’s unemployment before an insurance appeal board, according to the complaint.
Donato told the appeal board that he did not believe he could get CB 1 to discipline Delis.
State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) said he believed Delis should repay the city.
“His behavior has cost the taxpayers almost $100,000,” Gianaris said. “The right thing for him to do would be to make the city whole rather than let the public pay for it.”
Delis blasted Gianaris, accusing him of “sticking his face in a legal matter.”
“He should mind his own business,” Delis said. “He always takes cheap shots at me. He’ll never be the man I am. Is he so jealous of me because I’m prettier than he is?”
Delis also alleged the city settled with Gutierrez because it was cheaper than going to trial.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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