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New York Attorney General Letitia James is facing questions about whether she properly handled an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment against a top aide.
Last Friday, the New York Times reported that Ibrahim Khan, James’s chief of staff, was resigning following at least two allegations of harassment against him, citing sources who said the attorney general’s office hired an outside firm to investigate the claims.
Now one of the accusers is speaking out, criticizing James’s handling of the situation. Sofia Quintanar, a former aide to James, told the Times she felt that the attorney general was protecting her longtime employee and not pursuing the issue as forcefully as she has in other cases. Quintanar said she was told that an investigation substantiated her claims, but findings from the inquiry weren’t made public.
“I find it just appalling to see how the office handled this publicly,” Quintanar said.
She feels that her claim was treated much differently than those of the women who accused former governor Andrew Cuomo of harassment. James’s investigation into those allegations and subsequent report resulted in Cuomo’s eventual resignation from office, though he denied any wrongdoing.
“Me and the other victims, we deserve the same vindication that was given to these other victims that she stood up for. It shouldn’t be any different because it happened in her house,” Quintanar said.
According to Quintanar, she attended a political fundraiser with Khan in November 2021 at a Brooklyn bar. When they went outside to continue a conversation, she says Khan roughly grabbed her and “stuck his tongue down my throat.”
Quintanar said she confronted Khan at the time, told one friend immediately after the incident, and began to tell more people in the following months. After speaking to other women who had similar interactions with Khan, Quintanar talked with a political consultant who works with James. The attorney general learned of the accusations on October 2, according to a timeline of the investigation issued by her office on Monday.
According to the timeline, James ordered Khan to work remotely and not interact with other employees on October 3. She then retained the firm Littler Mendelson to review the allegations on October 4. Khan then reportedly handed in his resignation on November 22, with the investigation officially concluding on December 2.
In a statement, Khan claimed that he had planned to exit his position at the end of the year, saying that his resignation is “unrelated to an investigation which, nevertheless, found no official workplace misconduct.”
On Wednesday, James addressed the investigation in a statement, thanking the women who came forward, saying “they were heard and that I believe them.”
“My office treated this matter as aggressively as every other matter that has come before our office. Within 24 hours, our office took disciplinary action and put Ibrahim Khan under restrictions, and within 72 hours, we engaged an outside law firm that began an impartial and exhaustive review of the allegations. Mr. Khan resigned while the process was still ongoing,” James said. “When the process concluded, my office spoke with each individual and informed them that allegations were substantiated. I am confident in the steps that were taken to swiftly review the allegations and in the integrity of the investigation.”