Walsh Questions Veracity Of Paoletto Investigation

Former City Councilman Bob “Troll” Walsh contends city employee councilor Richard Paoletto is being protected from his second sexual harassment allegation, the first of which the Troll says led to a slap on the wrist. City Council President Tom McCarthy, deputy director of Labor Relations, has recused himself from the city’s review process, writing “the employee is innocent until proven otherwise.”

Paoletto, suspended with pay pending review of the allegations by Labor Relations Director Larry Osborne, could also face sanctions from the city’s legislative body. Walsh knows what that’s like, arguing city leaders were quick to excoriate him for a private call to a council peer for which he apologized, than seriously addressing a sexual harassment charge against an administration supporter. Walsh was a stick in the eye to three mayoral administrations while he served on the council.

Appearing on Jennifer Buchanan’s Bridgeport Now cable access show Tuesday night, Walsh said, “It’s either preferential treatment or the city’s ambivalent to sexual harassment claims.” The only advice the city council president has shared, Walsh asserted, is don’t talk to the press.

Walsh argued that Paoletto “committed sexual harassment and placed the city in harm’s way … but the council president says it’s kinda iffy.”

McCarthy has recused himself from the Paoletto investigation as a result of his position as deputy director of labor relations.

This raises another example of a sticky situation with city employees serving on the City Council in violation of the City Charter because a loophole in state law allows it, or so declares the interpretation of City Attorney Mark Anastasi. Every time an allegation is made against a city employee councilor, it will be reviewed by the department for which McCarthy serves as second in command to Larry Osborne.

McCarthy issued this email to the legislative body three weeks ago:

As I am sure most of you have seen by now, there is an article in today’s CT Post about Councilman Paoletto. A few things about this situation: 1) I have recused myself from any Labor Relation’s investigation because of my role as City Council President. I am not involved and, therefore, don’t have any additional information. 2) At this point it is important to remember that complaints are filed and investigated regularly about city employees. Sometimes they are found to have merit, sometimes they are found to be baseless. It is important to remember that if a complaint has been filed, that does NOT mean the person did anything wrong. The employee is innocent until proven otherwise. 3) The Council will wait until there is a determination in any investigation before making any decisions. We, as a Council, will deal with any investigation decisions as a Council, when the investigation is over. 4) Because we don’t know what is true and what is not true in this situation, I would advise everyone to avoid any comments to the press. 5) Richie deserves the right to go through this process and defend himself from any and all allegations that may have been made. 6) As a Council this may be a distraction, but we must continue to do our job and represent the people of Bridgeport.

If I get any information about this, I will let you all know. Tom Mc



  1. Thank you, Lennie.
    I was going to note Tom McCarthy believes he is doing the right thing but I can’t. Unfortunately Tom McCarthy cannot separate himself from his city and his council position and his council presidency and his town committee role and his personal relationship with Richie Paoletto.
    So Tom falls on his legal training and says everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But he seems to be forgetting one thing:
    Where is the leadership in this city? On this council? It is this incestuous relationship among politicians and employees and families that continues to poison Bridgeport politicians.
    And yet no one will even step forward and say this is unacceptable.

  2. And what about the women on the city council? Do they find sexual harassment in the workplace to be acceptable behavior???
    What would the council members be saying if a teenage intern who was related to them were subject to this type of behavior? Oh, that’s just Richie being Richie?
    The boys being boys defense has been found to be indefensible everywhere except with city employees and City Council members.
    Totally disgusting.

  3. When Bob Walsh talks about the City Council, he refers to the City Charter. When Mark Anastasi talks about the City Council, he’s referring to the rule of law.
    Legislators were born to legislate. Loopholes are legal. The General Assembly will have to change the law to make the Bridgeport delegation relevant again. I wonder if they’ll be able to close the loophole.

  4. I have no faith there is any integrity around this investigation and I’ve no doubt after Paoletto has had the equivalent of a long paid vacation he’ll be back doing whatever the hell he does when he’s not sexually harassing female city workers. The Finch administration and City Council has set the bar so high for embarrassment and shame, they won’t blink before reinstating Paoletto. Worse, they will believe they got away with it. Worse still, they will.

  5. Funny you should use the term “they will believe they got away with it.”
    There is a new rumor circulating, Mr. Paoletto was involved in yet another sexual harassment claim back in the Fabrizi years that was effectively swept under the rug.
    Any truth to that, Council President McCarthy?
    Let’s file an FOI request. Oh that’s right, the city will say first of all they cannot produce items that are in an individual’s personnel file and then, after being corrected by the state, they will ask Richie for his permission. Richie and his union will say no but the union does not have a say in the matter.
    Sad; very, very sad.
    I hope one of these victims sues the city. I realize as a taxpayer I will be the one who ultimately pays but unfortunately that will be the only chance we have of truly getting to the bottom of this mess.

  6. LE–MARK never speaks to the “Rule of Law!” His rule of law is to give his opinion. The Council should demand him to give a ruling based on him citing case law!

  7. The City Council President and deputy director of Labor Relation for Bridgeport will not give that type of consideration to other City employees as he is giving to Richard Paoletto if they were charged with the same charges.

  8. Let’s not exaggerate a sad situation. Richard Paoletto has not been charged with anything. He is currently considered innocent under investigation. The visual people are getting is some lewd and lascivious image when in fact it could be just a simple misinterpretation of an innocent comment. I will not condemn Richard Paoletto until the investigation is complete. If the Mayor and the constituents do not want to address if the allegations are true, then this will be a distraction Mayor Finch will have to deal with because we can be sure Mr. Walsh will bring this up repeatedly. We should hold the negativity as Mr. Paoletto has a family and many friends who are disturbed by the possibly of this being an ongoing issue. TIME WILL TELL. Relax!

    1. Steve,
      We know in 2010 Richard Paoletto was found to have violated the city’s sexual harassment policy. That is not in dispute. The city initially said it could not release any of the documentation concerning that incident because those documents were in his personnel file. After the state of CT corrected that assertion, then the city asked Mr. Paoletto for his permission to release the documents and he refused.
      The city, I believe has acknowledged or has not denied, in order to avoid financial hardship for Mr. Paoletto, the financial consequences will be spread out over time. The rumor is Mr. Paoletto was to be suspended for 60 days without pay but the accommodation that was made was to serve one day a month until he has satisfied this obligation.
      The current allegation involves a college intern who was under Mr. Paoletto’s supervision.
      You can be damned sure Mr. Walsh believes these accommodations are being made either because this city employee also happens to be a city council member OR because the city of Bridgeport does not take seriously complaints about sexual harassment in the work place. Take your choice.
      And you are damned right, I am not letting this go by quietly as the Mayor, City Council President, Council member Paoletto and the majority of the City Council members wish it would.

      1. Bob, I am happy you are on top of the situation. My point was we should at least give the investigation some credibility unless it is obviously a scandal. I like Richie Paoletto. If he is guilty he should be fired without any benefits. I hope he is found innocent. If not, let justice prevail. This is the career of two individuals. Let’s be patient. I do find it more interesting those who are not commenting. Very curious.

        1. Steve,
          Let’s take names out of this equation.
          Do you find it totally appropriate the city decided after it determined:
          1) indeed a city employee had sexually harassed another employee in the workplace
          2) the guilty individual held a deputy director’s position
          3) the appropriate level of punishment would be a 60-day suspension without pay?

          The individual could serve that suspension at the rate of one day a month for however many years it would take?
          These are pretty much the facts that are not in dispute and we are talking about past practices not the most current allegation.

          And if these are indeed correct, do you feel the city is treating the act of sexual harassment as a minor offense?

          Or are you outraged an individual, whoever that may be, was allowed to get off so easily?

          And are you outraged it could easily be interpreted these “special circumstances” could lead to the offender not taking the punishment seriously and committing the offense again?

          1. Bob, I agree with you. I commented and stated, if this is true he should be fired and stripped of benefits. The current climate in the world has changed. Bill Cosby has already been charged and convicted by the public. His shows are being pulled from syndication and these allegations are old and extremely questionable. The Finch administration has a potential firestorm approaching. They need to wrap up the investigation, share the facts and act quickly.

  9. It has been said before, “rumors” here in Bridgeport have a prophetic sense to them in that long-buried stories somehow gain another life. People will remember. People will talk. What people often avoid is being an initial whistleblower. And sometimes because of a “greater good,” the stories are ignored and go away, though a predator may be allowed to have another day to continue his self-absorbed practices.

    Such is the lesson of clergy sexual abusers in the Catholic Church that has been well developed by researchers and media in the past dozen years. Power abuse by a priest over a youth that allowed all manner of sexual abuse would certainly be acknowledged as criminal had it come to light. But keeping it quiet in diocesan offices and moving a predator to another location (and hoping, praying for the best while ignoring professional counsel that this was a faulty practice) without the community knowing any better finally blew up. And there has been great damage to many lives in many families. And there has been great expense to many parties. And there has been damage to the authority and reputations of those who did not faithfully carry out their duty to protect the weak and the young.

    You see, in too many cases of pedophilia and ephebophilia, the abuser continued his practices. And more victims were sacrificed to going along with the status quo.

    In this case, the inappropriate behavior of a public servant in recent years was found worthy of suspension without pay by City process. That is part of the historic record. Another episode is currently alleged, reported and the system must look at the facts and the behavior and come to a decision.

    But what if there was a previous case of unwanted sexual overtures in the workplace that never was pressed officially? What if it would have made the “first case” we know about really a second episode? Would that make this episode an unfortunate third if it has the appropriate elements?

    Harassment of fellow employees in the workplace as well as the abuse of power in public service is not to be condoned. They pollute and corrupt a community. Would it be time for reluctant whistleblowers to come forward? Is any part of this recent rumor accurate in any way, and if so does it bear on the current complaint? Time will tell.

  10. True power isn’t granted–it’s taken. But wait! To change things, the GA has to change the law. But that can’t be done until next year; after the holidays and after certain oaths and photographs are taken. So-called reformers move at a snail’s pace when all they’re seeking is yesterday’s status quo. In praise of circumvention!

  11. The City of Bridgeport has a duty to take ALL complaints about sexual harassment in the work place seriously. As a Lieutenant in the Bridgeport Fire Dept. we were trained that way and to assure the person we take their complaint seriously and to document everything they said and to let the person know my door was always open if they had any questions concerning their complaint and their complaint would go directly to the chief and they had permission to go directly to the chief.

    How will employees of the City feel about making complaints in the future when the City acts this way with this case. Pay me now or pay me later.

  12. I am hereby stepping forward (in violation of a gag order that was issued to me in my capacity as a City Council Member), and publicly stating this is unacceptable.

  13. A gag order outlaw–only in Bridgeport. It’s meaningless to declare “unacceptable” what’s already happened unless you have the ability to change the past.

    1. But if enough council members were to step forward and say the same thing, that’s Council President McCarthy is worried about losing votes in the future (especially his reelection), then maybe they can change the future.

      1. Bob Walsh, why would a female City worker come forward with a complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace when the City’s deputy director of Labor Relation is giving special treatment to someone who has charges against him?

  14. Thank you Bob Halstead for standing up on this matter as you have on several others. You have personal experience of examples of “power abuse” by City Hall when one speaks up. One can only guess at the existence of other examples of such “power abuse” from the few people with a job or appointment who dare to exercise their First Amendment right to speak freely on subject of importance to the community.

    Certainly on OIB we have a wide difference of opinion on most subjects, and sometimes we have a similar shot pattern of facts as well. However, we wander our way in this desert landscape hoping to discover and get to the Promised Land. All you potential leaders who would lead us there, remember, Moses did not get there with his people, who did.

    So we are about legacy and for the guys who would like to sweep harassment behavior under the rug, it must be remembered many women who have lived with this in one manifestation or another do not wish it on their daughters, their sisters or granddaughters. They will help establish a line in the sand that will show up in election results if not before. Internet news today is indicating to Bill Cosby certain alleged behavior from past years is no “laughing matter” today. It is in that way I regularly use the phrase “time will tell.”

    1. John Marshall Lee, I would like to add one thing to what you said, we as men MUST stand up and always protect our women no matter who they are, this is what society demands.

      1. As long as we are amending statements of necessary support, can we agree in addition to standing up for women in the community “no matter who they are,” we need to take the same stance for all of the children of the community? If society does demand this and the community feels it, perhaps we can get more informed members of the community out to support such efforts and good candidates who espouse them and will work for them in genuine fashion. I can’t wait for that time. Time will tell.

  15. Tom McCarthy, I make this comment as an experienced Council President (10 years). When you recuse yourself from a situation, you refrain from making ANY comments. We’re all aware anyone facing an allegation is “innocent until proven guilty.” You may or may not find it difficult to zipper up, but zipper up you must. Consider this constructive criticism. It must be confusing when you juggle so many roles, i.e. Airport Commissioner, Councilmember, District Leader for the 133rd TC, Labor Relations attorney, and as far as I know, that’s it, and a lot for one person to handle.

    1. Thank you, Lisa.
      From the bottom of my heart to the upper mezzanine at Goodspeed Opera House where I am enjoying the premiere of Holiday Inn. And don’t worry, I am not texting and watching. It is intermission and the lovely Ms. Judith is in the powder room.

  16. Great advice Lisa, to the City Council President, another role, ranking second to the Mayor in the City line of succession. One cannot be a commentator or enforcer of GAG ORDERS no matter how “unfair” that seems. Is it a conundrum of wearing too many hats, perhaps? Time will tell.

  17. Bob Halstead, I want to clear up confusion in my mind concerning your platform when running for office, “speaking up is the essence of democracy.” Are you suggesting after Mr. McCarthy recused himself from the issue of discussion, it was appropriate for him to comment in any one of his official capacities regarding this issue that is allegedly sexual in nature? I would appreciate you qualify your comment since as a constituent, I still can’t shake the fact my two representatives voted to approve an individual who was registered as a sex offender. The people want to know!

    1. Lisa,
      I’ve appreciated many of your insights on OIB.

      I too was disturbed by the possibility the Misc Matters committee on which Mr. Halstead and Ms. Swain serve had approved the Mayor’s appointee for the Ethics Commission who had a serious criminal record and was listed on an out-of-state sex offender registry.

      Having queried several members of the committee, I corroborated enough information to be convinced the Misc Matters committee was not informed of Mayor Finch’s selected candidate’s registered sex offender status–as documented in the 7/2/14 Hartford Courant article “Charter School Group Stung By Another Worker’s Criminal Past”
      www .courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-fuse-criminal-records-20140702,0,7650617.story

      FUSE, now under federal investigation, the charter school company that ran Dunbar, was the employer of this fellow. Shamefully, FUSE knew of Mr. Allen’s registered sex-offender status as early as Jan 2014, but withheld this information from the Bridgeport Board of Education until July 1.

      Source link: www .courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-fuse-criminal-records-20140702-story.html

      Note, as of today, the “Seven”-member “Ethics Commission” for the City of Bridgeport has five members listed on its city web page, three of the five listed show expired terms. See www .bridgeportct.gov/content/89019/89540/89569.aspx

  18. Lisa, again that statement is slander regarding the sex offender non-issue.

    What I am saying is not acceptable is the conflict of interest issue, that there is a gag order, that this type of behavior on the part of Paoletto is grounds for the council to take him off the Council. Bye, Lisa.

  19. Pete, thank you for your input and research on the matter you shared with us. While I’m not surprised that information was withheld from relevant officials, I guess I can’t help but draw on my frame of reference when serving on the Council. I tried never to completely trust what was placed before me for a vote, especially when the decision to be made was of a sensitive nature. I asked questions above and beyond what was expected. In the instance of the possible Ethics appointee, I believe someone on the Council should have gone further than what the application required. “Is there anything else we should know,” would have worked. Unless, of course, the applicant was willing to commit fraud. Twenty members and not one thought of doing that.

  20. It has been approximately one month since Paoletto has been suspended. Why hasn’t this case been completed? There is no excuse. You have Paoletto to interview and you have the women who alleges she was sexually harassed by Paoletto and there may be one or two witnesses. There is no excuse for this investigation not to have been completed.

  21. Here again, the city hopes things cool down and they will silently try to get Paoletto back to work. I have done my large loss investigations and have finished most of them in less than a month, this is not due process, this is stalling.


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