Corey Coleman, who resigned June 18, hired fraternity brothers and women he met at bars, investigators say.

The personnel chief of the Federal Emergency Management Agency – who resigned just weeks ago – is under investigation after being accused of creating an atmosphere of widespread sexual harassment over years in which women were hired as possible sexual partners for male employees, the agency’s leader said Monday.

The alleged harassment and other misconduct, revealed through a preliminary seven-month internal investigation, was a “systemic problem going on for years,” said FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long. Some of the behavior could rise to the level of criminal activity, he said.

Some of the claims about the agency’s former personnel chief are detailed in a written executive summary of the investigation provided to The Washington Post. FEMA officials gave other details and confirmed that the individual under investigation, whose name was redacted from the report, is Corey Coleman, who led the personnel department from 2011 until his resignation in June.

Coleman resigned June 18, before a scheduled interview with investigators, and FEMA officials said they have not been able to question him since.

Online records show Coleman was a senior executive who was paid an annual salary of $177,150.

In an interview, Long described a “toxic” environment in the human resources department under Coleman at FEMA headquarters. Starting in 2015, investigators said, Coleman hired many men who were friends and college fraternity brothers and women he met at bars and on online dating sites. He then promoted some of them to roles throughout the agency without going through proper federal hiring channels.

Coleman then transferred some of the women in and out of departments, some to regional offices, so his friends could try to have sexual relationships with them, according to employees’ statements during interviews with investigators.

“What we uncovered was a systemic problem going back years,” Long said. He said he has referred several of the cases to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, who oversees FEMA, to investigate possible criminal sexual assault.

“The biggest problem I may solve here may be the eradication of this cancer,” Long said. “How many complaints were not heard? I’ve got to make sure we have a safe working environment for our employees.”

Long said the problems extend beyond Coleman. The investigation is “not going to stop with him,” he said.

Long said he received a direct complaint last year from an employee who said Coleman sexually harassed her. Long forwarded it to the general counsel’s office, which started the internal investigation.

Coleman was placed on administrative leave in April.

Long is a Trump appointee who has served in his role for 13 months. FEMA officials said the DHS inspector general’s office had received complaints about Coleman in 2015 and referred them back to the agency to investigate.

It’s unclear what became of those complaints under the Obama administration, the officials said.

Many of the men and women Coleman hired were unqualified yet are still at the agency, officials said. Long said his staff interviewed 73 current and former employees and took sworn statements from 98 people.

Long said many valued employees in the human resources department left because of Coleman’s “unacceptable leadership style, good people who wouldn’t put up with it.”

The preliminary investigation, completed Friday, found that an official described as the former chief component human capital officer had sexual encounters with two subordinates, one in 2015 and the other in 2017 continuing into this year.

FEMA officials confirmed this person was Coleman.


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