DOJ unit leader demoted, accused of sexism, favoritism

DOJ unit leader demoted, accused of sexism, favoritism
Floyd Yarmuth/CNN

The former head of the Justice Department’s death penalty unit has been demoted following a New York Times inquiry into accusations that he promoted gender bias and a “sexualized environment” in the workplace.

Capital case section chief Kevin Carwile, who received an Excellence in Management Award from the Justice Department in 2011, has been accused of favoritism and sexism in how he oversaw the unit, which he was placed in charge of in 2010, the newspaper reported, citing court records, internal documents and interviews with current and former employees.

Employees of the unit, which helps the attorney general decide when to seek the death penalty, filed at least 12 complaints of favoritism and sexism to Justice Department officials, the inspector general and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, The Times reported. Some of the allegations against Carwile went unaddressed for years, and in the cases that were investigated, the accusers were never informed of the conclusions, the Times reported. Six employees told the newspaper they eventually left the section or government altogether partly due to the toxic environment.

Carwile remained in his leadership role during the investigations, according to the Times. Carwile declined to comment to the Times, but he was demoted and sent to another division after the newspaper contacted the Justice Department about the allegations, the newspaper reported.

Department spokesman Ian Prior gave CNN the same statement he provided the Times: “The Department of Justice takes these allegations extremely seriously but cannot discuss specific employee disciplinary actions, or comment on internally handled personnel actions or matters that may impact personal privacy.”

The Justice Department confirmed to CNN that some of the allegations have been referred to the inspector general.

One of the unit’s prosecutors, Jacabed Rodriguez-Coss, filed a complaint in 2013 with the EEOC, accusing Carwile of making her involuntarily travel far more than her male colleagues, according to the Times.

Carwile assigned Rodriguez-Coss to a case in California, though she lived in Connecticut and said her family needed her nearby since her husband, an FBI agent, was dealing with the aftermath of having worked on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Times reported. Following her complaint, Carwile suspended permission for her to work from Connecticut, according to the newspaper. She sued the department in 2016, accusing Carwile of gender discrimination and retaliation for filing the complaint.

A former intern, Luke Woolman, accused Carwile of telling him to keep quiet after he, Carwile and another Justice Department prosecutor allegedly witnessed Carwile’s deputy grope a former administrative assistant Alyssa tenBroek during a work-sanctioned happy hour last May, the Times reported. tenBroek told the newspaper that she participated in a complaint process and has since left the agency, adding that the department had “failed” her when she reported the alleged misconduct.

Through his lawyers, Carwile’s deputy declined to comment to The Times.

The department’s inspector general began investigating the incident, and the deputy has been demoted and moved to another division, which he is appealing, The Times reported.