EXCLUSIVE! – PWC Planning Office Sexual Harassment Scandal EXPOSED!

UPDATED: 11/22/14 Police Pop PWC Planning Post Perv

Virginia Virtucon has been provided documents detailing an alleged pervasive sexual harassment scandal in the Prince William County Planning Office with Chief of Long Range Planning Ray Utz being accused of being a central player in it all.

First up is a memo written to Planning Commissioner Kim Hosen by women who attended an April 23, 2008 Planning Commission meeting who were appalled by Utz’s treatment of Hosen during the meeting and alludes to conditions allegedly faced by female employees in his office over the course of the previous two years.  Allegations contained in this memo include that women working for Utz were “verbally abused, professionally intimidated, humiliated and demeaned.”

Next up is a January 26, 2009 letter to the Prince William County’s Human Resources Dept. from an individual whose identity we will keep confidential for fear of reprisal.  She writes in part:

No female professional should ever experience the indignity, humiliation, abuse and non-professional experience I and other females have suffered working at the Planning Office under Ray Utz.

This six-page letter goes on to allege various abuses and unethical behavior in detail as well as support the allegations in the aforementioned memo to Ms. Hosen by providing names of other female employees who had allegedly been harassed and discriminated against (also redacted to prevent reprisals against them.)  The letter raises the issue of potential conflicts of interest and preferential treatment, citing the Walsh Colucci Lubeley law firm as a possible beneficiary of such action by the Planning Office.  The author of the letter alleges that Planning Director Steve Griffin has engaged in covering for Utz as well.

Now, the Craig Gerhart, outgoing County Exec., connection.  The letter points this out:

To add salt to injury, as soon as I was transferred to the current planning department (Steve Griffin transferred me as he stated “I noticed the tension between you and Ray Utz”), Ray Utz employed Matha Gerhart, the County Executive’s spouse to sit at my desk and intern on a non-compensation basis and is currently working on the land use chapter of the comprehensive plan.  I found this move very improper considering that the office at that time had sufficient comprehensive planners to handle the land use chapter planning.

What we are seeing with this, the IT embezzlement scandal and Gerhart’s swift exit is the Good Ol’ Boy network that has been in place in PWC for so long finally be exposed.

I am encouraged that the BOCS appears to be heading in the direction of conducting a nationwide search for a new County Exec.  Only by hiring an experienced, competent manager from outside the county who brings no personal agenda and who will respect the authority that the voters have placed in their elected officials can we finally clean house and bring our county government into the 21st century.  Virginia’s second largest county and one of America’s wealthiest counties deserves nothing less.


19 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE! – PWC Planning Office Sexual Harassment Scandal EXPOSED!

  1. I don’t mean to sound dismissive of the rest of the complaint but item 13 is really interesting. It underscores what many of have understood for many years, but is also the first time I have ever seen the Planning Office’s relationship with a particular law firm actually put in writing. Any thoughts on how that impacts any developers, land owners they are currently representing before the county?

  2. He sounds like a real jerk, but I didn’t see anything in those notes that would suggest sexual harassment. Gender harassment might be a better assertion, and may well have happened, but her complaints don’t reflect that. The incidents she reports just sound like a “good ole boy” way of doing things that needs to be changed, but were the male employees not treated just as poorly?
    Most of the stories she reports are stories of highly inappropriate behavior, but are they happening because she’s a woman? If they are, she needs to more clearly demonstrate that. She also said that she was witness to “brutal treatment and obvious sexual harassment” of other women. What happened? What did she witness?
    I’m not doubting her claim that she’s a victim of gender harassment, I just think she’s failed to show that and should consider including examples of incidents in which he demonstrated that he’s not only an unprofessional businessman with appalling behavior, but that the behavior was directed at her because of her gender.
    To her comment about not wanting to report the incidents immediately because she didn’t want to make a bad situation worse, I can totally relate. This is a big problem for women today. Many assume that the problems that women have experienced in the past should no longer be a burden because the legal protections are vast. That’s not so. Particularly for women in high level positions, it is often easier to deal with the problems than to report them. Once reported the work environment is not likely to get more friendly, and she stands to draw unwanted attention to herself. For a woman in a high position, it isn’t like she can report and find a new job if the situation worsens.
    As for her assertion that there was no acknowledgement or respect for the fact that she worked long and dedicated hours, in my experience this is reflective of a work ethic that many successful women possess that men don’t necessarily have to. Women put a lot of pressure on themselves to prove their worth and to overachieve. Men rarely recognize this, and they receive much more appreciation and admiration from employers for what amounts to a standard work day’s input.
    That’s not to say that men don’t work as hard as women or any other thing that people might get their feathers ruffled over, but in some cases, this seeming to be one of them, women work themselves to death trying to get the recognition that men get just for showing up, and it’s a self-inflicted torture that we have to learn to address.
    I’m glad that the house cleaning is beginning and applaud this woman for coming forward so that the environment can improve, regardless of whether or not the situation stems from gender harassment or just an overall self-serving, corrupt group of folks. Hopefully she will stick around to be a part of the solution.

    1. I think the first part, about moving in together or “can I rent from you” definitely fall under the sexual harassment umbrella. I think you’re right that it may be better to term this (and in most sexual harassment cases actually) as gender harassment. There is obviously unequal treatment of women in this office under Utz, which may actually raise it above sexual harassment to a civil rights violation.

  3. Yes, the “let’s move in together” statements were definitely way out of line. Sounds like the wave of change is coming and none too soon!

  4. Mr. Riley:

    I appreciate your comments and your letter to the PWC BOCs.

    The PWC police also has some long overdue cleaning house to take place. The majority of the female officers are in positions of highest profile with the least amount of command authority. There are no female officers above the rank of Lt.. This is shameful considering other surrounding jurisdictions have female officials commanding police districts and serving their police agencies as Deputy Chiefs and higher. . A former female officer successfully sued Chief Deane and the PWCPD in 1999 for discrimination and for retaliation.

    The police association was created by Chief Deane and his supporters. There is no avenue for officers to voice their concerns without fear of retaliation.

  5. I was not surprised to hear the news of Prince William county corruption and sexual harrasment charges. I have had positions with in the PW Government and have seen and heard of many realastate deals and wrong doing for years. The planning office along with other departments have relatives all working and performing favors for friends and relatives. There is a massive amount of elbow rubbing going on.

    If resignation letter still exist you will find several honest people loosing their jobs or layed off to silence them. I am not one of them.

    I welcome a independant federal investigation into corruption.

  6. I am very surprised of all the attack on a great leader who is the best ever exuctive in my 24 years with the County. I have been with 4 different County exwcutive and non of them can be compared to Craig Gerhrdt.
    all who is writint in this page is blind by his loyality to the party, the party who led America to a fool war that have cost the taxpayers $200 billion. where you have been during all this 8 dark years. open your eyes and wake up to see the reality. i am sorry that there are some people who never think write and be honest with themselves.

  7. “Great Leader”? Perhaps you’d be happier in North Korea with their “Dear Leader.”

    Also, you might want to learn how to spell if you want people to take you seriously. If you’re the kind of employee that Gerhart retained and promoted, no wonder the county is such a mess.

  8. I am elated to see that things are being uncovered in the County. As an employee, you have no where to go when you are subjected by the unprofessional treatment. Not only does the network in the County subject employees to unecessary stress and abuse but it also contributes to a great amount of waste of resources. Qualified people are not allowed to work with in the position classifications but unqualifed people are allowed to run the show due to relationship. Many of the Directors do not manage. The get high paying salary and delegate power to uninformed and inexperience, and unqualifed staff members based upon relationships.The County has a position classification system but the managers and County Execution are aware of many cases where people are not allowed to function within that spec based upon the personal bias of the manager. If you complain to Human Resources, nothing happens. If you complain to the County Executive, he put it back into the hands of the manager that you are complaining about.

    Someone needs to look into all of the femaies whose careers were ruined by the hand of the OIT Director over a number of years.

  9. I’ve worked in government long enough to know that these women’s allegations ring true. While the offenders are jerks in general, the insider culture regards women as less equal and tacitly condones this behavior. This gives high level staff cover to behave in a disgraceful manner, especially toward women.

    This has been going on for awhile without repercussion in several county departments, including pubic works and now we read that the police are no better.

    And to think that government wonders why the rest of the region thinks we’re a bunch of rednecks.

  10. Loyal:

    First of all I am not a member of any political party so stop trying to marginalize concerns of PWC residents by resorting to political attacks. You can’t defend the indefensible with those types of attacks.

    Second, I understand that none of the county executives were real gems in the past so saying that Mr. Gerhart was better than those previous to him doesn’t say a whole lot about the quality of his leadership. Rotation of high ranking county officials is always beneficial to constituents.

    I want to thank you for your years of service in PWC. I just hope you are not one of the individuals who are covering up and might be involved in the alleged corruption.

  11. A couple of observations:

    1. One has to wonder about the competence of the author of such a letter. Basic editing and grammar skills might make her claims of an unfair performance review more credible.

    2. Very little in the letter suggests actual sex or (wrongly-labeled) “gender” discrimination. Ray Utz may be an a**hole, but that’s pretty much all that this documentation demonstrates. To the extent that it does, one has to wonder about the pathetic state of discrimination law (about which I am no expert) where boorish behavior is treated as actionable.

    1. James, the comments regarding moving in together or renting from her would rise to sexual harassment. The other complaints would seem to fall under gender discrimination which could trigger a civil rights lawsuit (I believe this would entail treble damages) and federal EEOC investigation.

  12. I can tell you that Masood was living and greathing the “male is dominant” Indian way of life. Losing him is no loss, I can definitely say.

    Not sure about what goes on in the Planning office, but you should really dig deep into the connections. Who goes to,lunch with whom and how often. There is definitely smoke there.

    Try going to the HR department, to the EEO. It’s a FREAKING JOKE! You get nothing out of that office. If you’re an employee in the county and you have a problem with senior management, you’re screwed. You have no recourse. The individual running that part of HR is innefectual, but I don’t think it’s her fault. There is definite collusion among the top managers in the county.

    It’s there. People just need to dig deeper.

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