Ocean County Commissioner Joseph Vicari was slapped with a lawsuit by a female county worker who claims the longest serving elected official in Ocean County has sexually harassed for the past twenty years. Worse, Ocean County Commissioners Virginia Haines and Bobbi Jo Crea are being accused not only of covering up the allegations and pattern of sexual abuse but retaliating against the woman in the workplace.
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The lawsuit was filed in federal court in May, and alleged Vicari repeatedly made sexually charged comments against the woman. It accused him of fondling her breasts and intimidated her to maintain silence for fear of losing her job.
The lawsuit states that the victim complained to Ocean County officials in 2017, but those complaints went ignored. Commissioners Virginia E. Haines and Bobbi Jo Crea were also named in the lawsuit for using their official positions in office to retaliate against the woman by denying her request to be transferred.
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Crea and Haines are trying to have charges against them dismissed since the alleged pattern of behavior predates their time in office. However, since taking office, the two have ignored the allegations, according to the suit. Worse, they are alleged to have conspired against the victim in retaliation to protect Vicari.
The county says the allegations against Haines and Crea exceed a two-year statute of limitations.
But, Crea had allegedly told the victim to ‘never mention the conversation again’, when she tried to address the matter with the newly elected commissioner.
Now, she says her life had been ruined because of Vicari due to the emotional distress he put her through, the sexual assault and harassment, the false rumors, and the impact on her reputation and her career.
Vicari says he is innocent of the charges, adding that he intends to fight the lawsuit to clear his name.
This is the second sexual harassment suit against Vicari. In 2017, the county settled a $550,000 sexual harassment suit brought against Vicari by another female county worker against a county employee, claiming the freeholder ignored the allegations. Vicari admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
The Board of Commissioners has refused to comment on the lawsuit citing ongoing and pending litigation.
Several attempts to contact Vicari were made this week but were unsuccessful.