Philadelphia

Mayor Jim Kenney Says Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams Should Step Down

Two women who work for Williams have accused the elected official of sexual harassment, according to reports.

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams should leave his post amid new accusations that he sexually harassed female staffers, Mayor Jim Kenney said Thursday.

"I think he should step down," Kenney said in a statement. "Three women have come forward — and one was paid a significant sum to settle her claim just a few years ago."

The mayor's call came on the same day the National Organization for Women's Philadelphia chapter demanded Williams "step aside" until an in-depth investigation take place.

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Two female employees at the sheriff's office have come forward to accuse Williams of sexually harassing them, according to a Philly.com report earlier this week. An administrative assistant, Vanessa Bines, has filed a federal lawsuit. Another staffer, Marlaina Williams, who reportedly filed a complaint with a state board last year, is planning a federal lawsuit as well, her attorney said.

Separately, state Democrats told Philly.com that $30,000 was paid to settle a lawsuit that claimed Williams sexually harassed a staffer while he served as a state representative.

Exactly who is leading the investigation into the current accusations against Williams remains a complicated issue. 

The sheriff is outside the purview of investigatory powers for city's Chief Integrity Officer. But City Controller-elect Rebecca Rhynhart this week vowed to begin an audit into Williams' office once she takes office in January.

"I continue to be deeply concerned about the operations of the Sheriff’s Office. The allegations of sexual harassment, its history of financial mismanagement, and the lack of transparency in how contracts are awarded warrant a much deeper review of the Office, its operations and spending," Rhynhart said in a statement. "Taxpayers and city workers deserve much more and much better, which is why I intend to begin a detailed audit of the Sheriff’s Office next year."

A spokesman for the sheriff's office said a statement would be provided Thursday afternoon.

NOW said an investigation should be done by the sheriff's office itself.

"We must have answers on how many people were victimized through his positions over the entire length of his career," NOW said in the statement.

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