Documents detail complaints against Dem party director

Documents obtained Wednesday by WRAL News detail allegations of sexual harassment lodged against the North Carolina Democratic Party's former executive director by a junior staffer. In a letter, the staffer lays out specific behaviors he said constituted sexual harassment.

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Jay Parmley
RALEIGH, N.C. — Documents obtained Wednesday by WRAL News detail allegations of sexual harassment lodged against the North Carolina Democratic Party's former executive director by a junior staffer.

Jay Parmley resigned his post Sunday after news of the allegations became public, but he has denied wrongdoing. 

"Let me be clear: I have never harassed any employee at any time at the NCDP or in any other job," Parmley wrote in his resignation letter. He did not respond to a call from WRAL News Wednesday evening.

In a letter to Parmley dated Dec. 8, 2011, the junior staffer tells a very different story. He lays out specific behaviors he said constituted sexual harassment including: 
  • "The Executive Director often solicited my opinion on his clothes. He would point both hands to his crotch and ask me how his crotch looked in those pants"
  • "the Executive Director would frequently pretend to punch my crotch and make a popping noise with his mouth"
  • "the Executive Director frequently gave me unwanted shoulder rubs despite my verbal objections"
  • "on July 28, 2011, the Executive Director discussed, in detail, his sexual activities"

The staffer was fired from the party on Nov. 21.

"I believe that I was fired in retaliation for my complaints of sexual harassment," the junior staffer wrote.

The accuser requests a monetary settlement from the party in exchange for confidentiality.

John Wallace, attorney for the state Democratic Party, acknowledged that there was a confidential settlement between the party and the accuser.

"The parties contemplated that the terms of the agreement would remain confidential, but at the same time, explicitly contemplated that the dispute between the parties would not be prejudicial to the former employee nor to my client," Wallace wrote. 

In the letter, the staffer also said he had met with Scott Falmlen, who was a previous executive director for the party. Falmlen confirmed the meeting happened in early October, but said the staffer was not nearly so specific in his allegations against Parmley and told him the two has resolved his concerns.

Falmlen said, "He did not detail the salacious specifics contained within his December 8, 2011, letter, which I have seen for the first time tonight."

Parker doesn't budge

The scandal has focused attention on state Democratic Party Chairman David Parker, who was Parmley's boss. He has faced calls from Gov. Bev Perdue and other elected leaders to step down because of how he has handled the accusations against Parmley. 

Parker arranged for a settlement with the victim in the matter and allowed Parmley to continue working at the party.

He has rebuffed calls for his resignation and said he had support of key party officials.

"I have met with our Executive Council via teleconference and am gratified by their strong support for my continued Chairmanship," Parker said. On Wednesday, he outlined a plan in which he would stay in power until mid-June.

Parker's response did not sit well with Perdue or other party leaders.

“I am reiterating my call for the chairman of the party to resign. The process laid out by the chairman in his email late today to Executive Committee members is totally unacceptable. The chairman needs to go," Perdue wrote.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin said the calls for Parker to resign were made "for good cause."

“In light of recent events and the fact that a significant number of Democrats, and especially the statewide-elected officials, have voiced the opinion that Chairman Parker no longer is able to be effective as chair, it is disappointing,” Goodwin said. 

Gwen Wilkins, the party's first vice chair and one of the people with whom Parker met, said the chairman's claims of support were not founded.

"I was elected because dedicated and loyal Democrats had faith that I would not sit back and be quiet when the time came to speak up ... With that said, let me be clear: that all – and I stress ALL -- those on the [state Democrats'] Executive Council have NOT indicated their support of Chairman Parker," Wilkins said. "It is my opinion that the statement made by him is misleading to the Democrats that elected him to office and to our voters."

Parker said he would call for a referendum on his office at the party's state executive committee June 17, in Raleigh.

"At that SEC meeting we will, in addition to the conduct of regular business, hold elections for all party office vacancies and hold a referendum on the State Party Chair, which I will not conduct. If there are multiple candidates for State Chair, we will have an election. If there is a single candidate, there will be an acclamation," Parker wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.

EEOC complaint pre-dates settlement

After WRAL reported the junior staffer's letter, Wallace shared a copy of a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint lodged against the party by the same man.

The complaint, dated Jan. 31, was filed before the settlement was reached. In it, the EEOC asked Parker to respond by Feb. 28, but Wallace said no such response was ever filed.

The complaint gives a short summary of the allegations in the Dec. 8 letter. In it, the junior staffer wrote that he had maintained "notebooks where I maintained records of the harassment," but said those notebooks were stolen by another party official.

The complaint lays out that the junior staffer worked for the party starting on March 10, 2010. "During my tenure I was sexually harassed by the Executive Director," it says. In September of 2011, the staffer says he discussed his harassment with the party's Director of Administration.

"On or around Oct. 1, 2011, my supervisor revealed to me that he had been advised of my allegations against him," the EEOC complaint reads. "I met with another Executive Director on or around Oct. 3, 2011, and was advised that I would not be retaliated against. I was no longer sexually harassed but on or around Nov. 21, 2011, my employment was terminated."