NY attorney general sued after former adviser’s #MeToo exit

Dec 15, 2022, 2:20 AM | Updated: 4:52 pm
FILE - New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a news conference on Sept. 21, 2022, i...

FILE - New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a news conference on Sept. 21, 2022, in New York. A woman who accused a former top adviser to James of unwanted kissing filed a lawsuit Tuesday, Dec. 13, alleging the Democrat and her office ignored previous warnings about his behavior. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)

(AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A woman who accused a former top adviser to New York Attorney General Letitia James of unwanted kissing filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging the Democrat and her office ignored previous warnings about his behavior.

Sofia Quintanar, a political consultant and former deputy press secretary in James’ office, alleges former Chief of Staff Ibrahim Khan thrust his face in front of hers and “stuck his tongue down her throat” as they were chatting outside a political fundraiser at a Brooklyn bar last year.

Khan resigned Dec. 2, about two months after Quintanar first lodged her complaint with the attorney general’s office about his behavior. He has denied wrongdoing.

In her lawsuit, Quintanar alleges that James and her office were aware that Khan had a “propensity to sexually harass and to commit sexual assaults” and they were negligent in hiring and supervising him.

Quintanar had previously credited James’ office for taking swift action after she reported the incident, telling the New York Post last week that her issue “has never been with Attorney General Letitia James or how the investigation was handled.”

A message seeking comment was left with Khan’s lawyer.

James’ office said in a statement that it “took the allegations brought to our office seriously and engaged in decisive, prompt, and appropriate action.”

Khan had been one of James’ closest confidantes for nearly a decade, dating to her successful campaign for New York City public advocate in 2013. The allegations against him are a rare crisis for the Democrat. Last year, James oversaw a sexual harassment probe that led to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation. After that, she briefly ran for governor before opting for reelection. Some Cuomo allies and state Republicans now want her investigated.

After Quintanar reported Khan’s alleged forcible kissing to James’ reelection campaign in October, the attorney general’s office hired a law firm to investigate her allegations, and claims by another woman who had previously worked for James.

Khan was told to stay home during the investigation, which started in the final weeks of James’ successful reelection campaign. In a Nov. 22 memo, Khan wrote that he would be leaving for a private sector job at the end of the year, but he departed immediately once the allegations were substantiated.

Quintanar, in her lawsuit, suggests James’ office was covering for Khan — telling reporters that he was on vacation or visiting a sick relative while he was under investigation — and attempting to give him a soft exit.

The lawsuit was filed in state court under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which temporarily sets aside time limits to bring lawsuits for adults who were sexually assaulted. Her lawyer, Douglas Wigdor, explained that was done because the accusations say the assault happened just beyond the one-year statute of limitations.

Quintanar said she was torn about reporting Khan, and waited nearly a year to do so, because she feared he would use his power to harm her career. Ultimately, she said, Khan did use his power against her by blocking her from getting a job as a communications strategist for James’ campaign. That, she said, prompted her to come forward.

Quintanar alleges Khan assaulted her in November 2021 while James and other prominent Brooklyn Democrats were inside the bar attending a political fundraiser.

Quintanar said she went to the event, in part, because she was looking for a new job after helping Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown win reelection and was hoping to network with people who could help her find work. She was not working for James or her campaign at the time.

After Khan started kissing her, Quintanar said she pushed Khan away, asking him, “Aren’t you married?” and “Don’t you have kids? What are you doing?”

Quintanar said a political contact later told her that Khan had a “sketchy” reputation and alerted her to a prior allegation, in a since-deleted New York Post article, that he had drugged and sexually assaulted a woman at a party while working at the public advocate’s office in 2017.

The Post, in a recent article, said the previous story was removed because the accuser “had not actually identified Khan as the person who drugged and assaulted her, and that she had said she had no memory of who the attacker was.”

The New York Times reported that the the allegation detailed in the Post article was investigated by both the Manhattan district attorney and a city watchdog agency, but that neither brought charges.

Quintanar said she filed the lawsuit with the hope of increasing “the visibility and strength of women of color having a voice in the #MeToo movement.”

“We are less likely to come forward in these situations because those in positions of power have historically thought less of us,” Quintanar said. “While I fear the effect that this might have on my career, I know that fear should never stand in the way of doing what is right.”

James issued a statement last week defending her office’s handling of the matter, saying she is “confident in the steps that were taken to swiftly review the allegations and in the integrity of the investigation.”

“I thank the women who came forward, and I want to assure them that they were heard and that I believe them,” James said.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they grant permission, as Quintanar has done.

__

On Twitter, follow Michael Sisak at http://twitter.com/mikesisak and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips/

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The logo for OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, appears on a mobile phone, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31...
Associated Press

Cheaters beware: ChatGPT maker releases AI detection tool

ChatGPT is trying to curb its reputation as a freewheeling cheating machine with a new tool that can help detect if artificial intelligence wrote it
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Myanmar resistance steadfast against army rule 2 years later

BANGKOK (AP) — The prospects for peace in Myanmar, much less a return to democracy, seem dimmer than ever two years after the army seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, experts say. On Wednesday, legions of opponents of military rule heeded a call by protest organizers to stay home in […]
23 hours ago
Rescue workers and people gather at the site of Monday's suicide bombing after authorities finished...
Associated Press

Peshawar, the city of flowers, becomes epicenter of violence

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s Peshawar was once known as “the city of flowers,” surrounded by orchards of pear, quince and pomegranate trees. It was a trading city, situated at the gates of a key mountain valley connecting South and Central Asia. But for the past four decades, it has borne the brunt of rising […]
23 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Fos...
Rio Yamat and Andrew Selsky, Associated Press

Oregon kidnap suspect previously released the day he arrived at prison

A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state's custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
23 hours ago
FILE - Taiwanese Mirage 2000 fighter jets taxi along a runway during a drill at an airbase in Hsinc...
Associated Press

Taiwan activates defenses in response to China incursions

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan scrambled fighter jets, put its navy on alert and activated missile systems in response to nearby operations of 34 Chinese military aircraft and nine warships that are part Beijing’s strategy to unsettle and intimidate the self-governing island democracy. The large-scale Chinese deployment comes as Beijing increases preparations for a potential […]
23 hours ago
In this Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023 photo, Beth Caruso, author and co-founder of the CT Witch Trial Exon...
Associated Press

Connecticut may exonerate accused witches centuries later

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Decades before the infamous Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, Alse Young was killed at the gallows in Connecticut, becoming the first person on record to be executed in the American colonies for witchcraft. The Windsor town clerk registered the death on May 26, 1647, in a diary entry that read: “Alse […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
NY attorney general sued after former adviser’s #MeToo exit