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FBI Employees Were Afraid to Report Harassment By Supervisor

James Hendricks was allowed to retire at full benefits
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 14, 2021 4:57 PM CDT
FBI Employees Were Afraid to Report Harassment By Supervisor
James Hendricks poses in 2018 after being made special agent-in-charge of the FBI field office headquarters in Albany, New York.   (John Carl D'Annibale/The Albany Times Union via AP)

One woman carried a ruler at FBI headquarters so she could smack James Hendricks' hands when he reached for her legs and breasts. Another went home shaken after he tugged on her ear and kissed her cheek during a closed-door meeting. And when Hendricks went on to lead the FBI's field office in Albany, New York, in 2018, colleagues described him as a "skilled predator" who leered at women in the workplace, touched them inappropriately and asked one to have sex in a conference room, according to a newly released federal report. Hendricks retired last year as a special agent in charge after the Office of Inspector General—the Justice Department's internal watchdog—concluded he sexually harassed eight female subordinates in one of the FBI's most egregious known cases of sexual misconduct, the AP reports. Hendricks was among several senior FBI officials highlighted in an AP investigation last year that found a pattern of supervisors avoiding discipline—and retiring with full benefits—even after claims of sexual misconduct against them were substantiated.

The FBI said that it could not discuss Hendricks' case but that it "maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment." Hendricks, 50, who now writes a law enforcement blog, did not respond to requests for comment. He told investigators that his accusers had either misinterpreted his actions or exaggerated his behavior, and that he was not sexually attracted to them. The details of Hendricks' sexual harassment—outlined in a 52-page report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act—have not previously been reported. Co-workers told investigators he surrounded himself with attractive women, was fixated on high heels and breasts, and was known for gawking at female agents as they walked down the hallway. Hendricks' male colleagues also considered him "creepy" and one described how he simulated masturbation once when a woman left the room. But like many female agents, they did not report him for fear of retaliation. One woman told investigators that Hendricks pressured her into having a sexual relationship, and that he had been known to "push out" people who crossed him.

(Read more FBI stories.)

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