The Board of Estimates is set tomorrow to pay $225,000 to settle a lawsuit by a woman who said she was sexually harassed by a city worker at a Community Action Partnership (CAP) assistance center.
The payment to “Jane Doe,” who is identified in U.S. court records as Shanae Watkins, will settle her complaint that Gary H. Smith took her to his “dimly lit” office to fill out papers in July 2018.
He made her stand up, slapped her buttocks and repeatedly asked if she would sleep with him while she was seeking emergency cash assistance before BGE cut off her electric service, Watkins said in her 2021 complaint in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Escaping after a co-worker entered the office, Watkins said she complained to CAP’s human services manager, but no action was taken.
After initially denying in court papers that the woman had been harassed, the city admitted that an internal investigation found that Smith had engaged in inappropriate behavior and violated sexual harassment policies.
What’s more, as alleged in Watkins’ federal lawsuit, the city acknowledged that Smith “had an extensive history of allegations of sexual misconduct, including a termination in 2009 for sexual harassment.”
The termination was reversed “after a Maryland court concluded that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain a criminal conviction,” according to tomorrow’s Board of Estimates agenda.
Smith was hired in 2004 and, after beating the termination order, worked at CAP’s Bank Street office, according to city records.
He reportedly left his $56,000-a-year position after other women, responding to a Facebook post by Watkins, said they had “experienced similar treatment at the same CAP center,” the agenda item said. His present whereabouts is not known.
CAP’s human services manager, whom the lawsuit says did not respond to Watkins’ complaints, left the agency in December 2019.
The Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success operates five CAP centers, which provide energy, water and rental assistance to needy families. The Bank Street center is temporarily closed.