CVM candidates: NPP SJ mayoral candidate is ‘not capable of managing the capital city’
Nogales says Romero mishandled harassment case against ex-Guaynabo mayor’s son; Romero calls accusations ‘acts of desperation’
By Pedro Correa Henry
Special to The Star
Citizen Victory Movement (CVM) at-large candidate for the Puerto Rico House of Represenatives Mariana Nogales Molinelli and San Juan Municipal Assembly candidate Mari Laura Rohena Cruz said Tuesday that New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for mayor of San Juan Miguel Romero is not capable of managing “a city where gender and sexual violence are more exacerbated day by day.” The candidates allege that Romero exonerated Héctor O’Neill Rosa in an investigation that was part of a sexual harassment case against the son of former Guaynabo Mayor Héctor O’Neill García.
“We want the people of Puerto Rico to know the final judgments that Miguel Romero has in terms of sexual harassment. We remind you all that, in the case of Héctor O’Neill’s son, he [O’Neill Rosa] was indicted for sexual harassment in both administrative and judicial terms. In the specific case of Miguel Romero, he was the one who conducted an investigation of the accusations as Guaynabo’s then-examining officer, as it was an administrative investigation,” Nogales Molinelli said. “From the administrative investigation, allegedly, there was a report submitted. It would be good to know the content of the 30-page report that Romero makes reference to, to see if he conducted a [thorough] enough investigation to provide a basis for exonerating him [O’Neill Rosa].”
The House at-large candidate added that, in terms of an administrative investigation, it would require “robust and convincing proof to make this determination” and that such proof would represent enough to remove the indicted from their position. Nonetheless, she said, that wasn’t what happened in this case.
“This sexual harassment case that Romero did not handle well on an administrative level cost around $1 million to both the city and its constituents in public funds,” Nogales Molinelli said. “When the defendants don’t want to go forward with a lawsuit, they pay a nuisance fee, which consists of what they would save on attorney fees, which is different from a million-dollar transaction.”
The attorney also said that, usually, agreements to settle such cases have confidentiality clauses; in a case where there is a transaction to litigate, she said, $2,000-$5,000 would be a common settlement.
“A $1 million transaction is settled to silence and cover what happened,” Nogales Molinelli said.
Meanwhile, Rohena Cruz said the candidates were not calling on Romero, a sitting NPP senator, to respond regarding the aforementioned matter, but rather wish to remind citizens of the capital city to take it into consideration when they cast their vote on Nov. 3.
“This is unforgivable. We can’t ignore these matters, we can’t let people who have such a record assume a leadership role either in the city or the Capitol,” Rohena Cruz said while demanding that the central government declare a state of emergency in response to a significant rise in gender violence on the island.
Romero, meanwhile, said in a written statement that the CVM candidates’ accusations were “an act of desperation.” Furthermore, he said, the submitted report was based on the information that was provided to him at the beginning of the investigation.
“At that stage, all of the evidence that was presented to the Court four years later was not available,” Romero said. “In fact, the federal [Equal] Employment Opportunity Commission, which also considered this matter at its inception, did not issue a determination on the allegations presented.”
The NPP candidate for mayor of San Juan and former island Labor and Human Resources secretary said the CVM is only continuing “its defamatory attacks, wanting to create a ball of smoke around my accomplishments as a lawyer and as a professional.”
“My legal services to that Municipality [Guaynabo] occurred five years ago when the complaint of a municipal employee began to be aired. In that administrative stage, all the evidence was never presented, and subsequently [it was] submitted in the federal court trial. They were two different processes in nature and purpose,” he said. “Cases are exclusively evaluated by the Court based on the evidence presented. The sentence issued in federal court was determined after additional evidence was [introduced] that was never presented in the initial process, including expert evidence, mostly on events that occurred after my work as Examining Officer.”