The newly appointed NYPD inspector general “notoriously” sexually harassed women colleagues for more than a decade, The Post has learned — prompting his ouster from the plum position Thursday.
Charles Guria sexually harassed at least seven current and former prosecutors and interns during his tenure at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, according to nine former and current prosecutors who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Just two weeks ago, Guria was tapped to take over the $170,000-a-year watchdog post starting Sept. 12 — but the city Department of Investigation said Thursday it was rescinding that offer, shortly after it was made aware of The Post’s investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment.
The former longtime chief of the Brooklyn DA’s Civil Rights and Police Integrity Bureau is accused of touching staffers inappropriately, taking photos of their intimate body parts, making sexual comments about their appearances, commenting on their breasts, ogling them and asking about their dating lives, among other misconduct.
None of these incidents resulted in formal complaints or findings of wrongdoing.
Guria, 61, who’s prosecuted a number of high-profile police corruption cases since he started with the office in 1990, including the 2010 Michael Mineo sodomy trial, is known for lingering in the offices of female prosecutors for “uncomfortable” periods of time and cozying up to young staffers during parties and after-work happy hours.
He also made derogatory remarks about sex crime victims, and, in December 2018, posted a since-deleted meme on Facebook showing Barbie dolls posed as strippers with $20 bills scattered around.
“Lmfao… ‘Tis the season,” he captioned the snap, a screenshot shows.
Guria’s reputation is based on what eight former colleagues described as “creepy,” “disgusting,” “weird” and “inappropriate” behavior that was primarily aimed at young, inexperienced staffers and that spans more than a decade.
“When people in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office heard that this guy was getting put in charge of policing the police, jaws dropped all over Joralemon Street,” Jane Manning, a former Queens sex crimes prosecutor and the director of the Women’s Equal Justice Project, told The Post in a recent interview.
“It’s not even an open secret, it’s just open. He’s one of the most notorious harassers in any DA office in the city.”
On Thursday, Guria issued a blanket denial of the allegations and his lawyer begged The Post not to publish the story, saying it could have “earth-shattering consequences.”
Two hours later, DOI Commissioner Jocelyn Strauber confirmed the department withdrew Guria’s offer for the top job “pending our own review of this matter” after The Post made it aware of the allegations.
“These allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct are deeply troubling,” Strauber said in an email, adding that the DOI was not aware of The Post’s allegations.
“DOI recognizes how difficult and traumatic it is for any individual to come forward and speak publicly about allegations of sexual misconduct and we support the women and men who have done so.”
‘Delighted to announce’
On August 4, the DOI announced in a splashy press release that Guria had been tapped as the city’s next police watchdog, a post that sat vacant for the first seven months of Mayor Eric Adams’ tenure after the agency’s first IG, Philip Eure, resigned in December.
In the announcement, Strauber touted Guria’s two decades as the chief of the Brooklyn DA’s Civil Rights and Police Integrity Bureau. She said his experience prosecuting dirty cops and his time working on the Mollen Commission, which investigated NYPD corruption in the early 1990s, made him the perfect fit for the role.
Guria was tasked with investigating police corruption and misconduct in a department that’s notoriously resistant to outside oversight. He would’ve also overseen the ethics and conduct of the NYPD, which is currently under a Department of Justice probe for gender bias.
The investigation, which is centered on the NYPD’s beleaguered Special Victims Division, will determine if the department has a pattern or practice of discriminating against primarily female crime victims.
Guria would’ve been one of the primary players responsible for ensuring the NYPD complies with any mandated remedies issued by the feds, if the DOJ finds a pattern of gender discrimination.
The women who were sexually harassed by Guria and had knowledge of his behavior were shocked to hear he’d been appointed to the position, especially given the backdrop of the DOJ gender bias probe.
They spoke to The Post before he was ousted by the DOI pending the agency’s independent review of the allegations.
“He used to refer to [rape] victims as ‘true victims’ … and ‘drunk girl cases,’” said one former prosecutor.
“If a girl is sexually assaulted when she’s drunk or blacked out, then that’s not a true victim case … I took that to mean that he didn’t think they were as worthy of prosecution.”
McKenzie*, who said she was sexually harassed by Guria in the 2010s, called the appointment “ironic.”
“It’s almost like you couldn’t play that out in a fiction novel better,” said McKenzie, a former prosecutor.
“This person who just flouted and abused authority in this way is now going to be in charge of patrolling abuse of authority. It’s crazy.”
‘No records of complaints’
The Post spoke with five former prosecutors who said they were sexually harassed by Guria while working with him at the Brooklyn DA’s Office. Sources informed The Post of two other incidents.
Five other current or former workers who were either aware of his inappropriate behavior or witnessed it were also interviewed for this story, some of whom corroborated the prosecutors’ accounts.
A spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA’s Office said “we have no tolerance for sexual harassment” and Guria resigned from the office a few weeks before DOI announced his appointment. The rep said they found no records of complaints of misconduct.
In an email to The Post, Guria insisted, “I have not sexually harassed interns or prosecutors.”
“The information you have is completely false.
“For the record, I have worked for three different DA’s administrations over a period of 32 years and I have never had an EEO or Sexual Harassment complaint filed against me. It is not that just that I have never been found guilty … I have never had a complaint filed against me.”
Guria did not comment on the specific incidents of harassment described in the story.
The women who claimed they were sexually harassed by Guria said they never filed formal complaints against him either because they didn’t feel safe telling their bosses — or they were brushed off when reporting it to their supervisors and told there was nothing that could be done.
Many of their stories were corroborated by witnesses and friends who were told about the encounters soon after they happened.
‘Two hands on her ass’
In or around the fall of 2015, two sources recalled an inappropriate interaction between Guria and another prosecutor that became so well known around the office, it was referred to as “the butt incident,” one of the sources said.
The woman was in her office when she stood on her desk to grab a case file that was on a shelf above her, leading Guria to rush into the room and place his hands on her buttocks to ensure that she didn’t fall, according to two sources briefed on the matter.
“All of a sudden, she felt two hands on her ass,” said one of the sources, whom the prosecutor told of the incident immediately after it happened.
“She didn’t ask for help … she was not falling. This was not a ‘he stepped in and helped her’ kind of thing.”
In or around the summer of 2015, while Guria was a senior trial assistant and supervisor in the office’s “Green Zone,” which covers five police precincts in south and central Brooklyn, he was allegedly caught taking a photo of an intern’s buttocks, two sources familiar with the matter said.
In another alleged incident involving a photo, a former prosecutor said Guria snapped a picture of her with a classmate during a party she attended after graduating from law school about a decade ago.
“He came over and kind of hovered up. We’re in shorts, it’s hot, he takes a photo and, like, at this point in time, I have no reason to think [anything is wrong],” recalled the former prosecutor, Stephanie*.
“Then I start at the DA’s office a year later and it was like the first thing he said to me, ‘Oh, I know you from the [party].’”
Stephanie said Guria brought up the photo any time he saw her. At one point, he brought in a copy and showed it to her while she was with a group of colleagues.
“He printed out a physical copy of a photograph of me and a girl in summer attire, so like shorts and tank tops, and referenced it at every point he could,” Stephanie recalled, saying the incident “freaked” her out.
“[I felt] like creeped out, a little bit unsafe, and also like embarrassed because he brought it up in front of other people, which made it seem like we had some kind of prior relationship or connection.”
‘You just have to ignore it’
During McKenzie’s first month with the Brooklyn DA’s Office in 2011, she was in her early 20s, fresh out of law school and toiling as a legal assistant with the hopes of landing a full-time job as a prosecutor.
While attending a happy hour during that first month, Guria, who was an executive at the time, sidled over while she was grabbing a drink, put his arm around her waist and told her he wanted to have sex with her.
“I wanted to get a job, so I was in the least powerful position you could be in,” said McKenzie.
Immediately after the incident, McKenzie said, she told a senior assistant district attorney about it but was quickly brushed off.
“She was just like, ‘Yeah, he’s gross, he says stuff like that to everybody … you just have to ignore it,’” McKenzie recalled.
“I was like, ‘Why do I have to ignore it?’ … and she said, ‘Well, because he’s a big deal.’”
When she went into work the next day to ask one of her supervisors how to report such an incident, she was told to direct the matter to Guria himself.
“Of course I didn’t report it,” said McKenzie. “What am I going to do? Go report to him that he did this?”
Five years later, an intern claimed to McKenzie that Guria had told her about “wild sex” he had with his girlfriend and asked for her help handling it.
When McKenzie went to her supervisor to ask what to do about the intern’s report, she was told “he’s gross, he’s disgusting, that’s just how he is.”
“I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t press it any further. I went back to the intern and said, ‘Yes, he’s disgusting, you did nothing wrong, he did everything wrong … and I promise you this is not your fault, but this is kind of the end of the line for it,’” said McKenzie.
“I really abdicated my responsibility. Once my deputy didn’t do anything, I should’ve gone further.”
‘No one bats an eye’
In the mid-2010s, Nicole* was in her late 20s and attending a holiday party when Guria came up to her while she was standing next to her supervisor.
“He reached down and grabbed my leg to look at my shoes and made some comment about my shoes and my legs … that were of a sexual nature,” Nicole recalled.
“I was so uncomfortable and the part of it that kind of was the most shocking to me was he was brazen enough to do it, and comfortable enough and felt privileged enough, to do this in front of my supervisor,” she continued.
“I felt that it was a shame that this was such the norm that no one even kind of bats an eye.”
In another incident more than a decade ago, while Guria was still an executive in the DA’s Rackets Bureau, he allegedly touched one of his interns inappropriately during a happy-hour outing.
“We were sitting at the bar and I remember him coming up behind me and he started massaging my shoulders and I honestly froze, it was very weird,” said Victoria*, the former intern.
“I remember everybody that was around was like looking at me … I couldn’t believe he was doing that, and in front of other people.”
Seven other former prosecutors who worked with Guria and frequently attended after-work happy hours said the behavior described by Victoria was common. They said he was frequently spotted hanging out with the youngest staffers in the room, putting his arms around their waists and shoulders and offering to buy them drinks.
“He was a staple of the party scene,” one former prosecutor said.
‘Preying’ on the young staffers
Seven former prosecutors who worked with Guria said he was also known to come into the offices of female staffers, including those who worked on different floors than him, and overstay his welcome.
“[When] you would see him slowly walking down the wall, you’d like alert others, ‘Charles is coming, shut the door’ … he would literally mosey down the hall and look for people to talk to,” said Victoria.
Guria would frequently talk about his many war stories but would also steer the conversation to personal and inappropriate matters, such as his dating life, women’s breasts and looks and inter-office gossip, like who was sleeping with whom, three former prosecutors said.
During McKenzie’s tenure with the Brooklyn DA’s Office, which ended in the late 2010s, Guria would stay in her office for so long, she would pretend to leave for a meeting just to get him out.
“He used to say things like, ‘Don’t take offense to this … but your body is shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle,’” said McKenzie.
“Or, ‘You’re shapely’ or like would talk about the size of other women’s breasts to me … I had a good friend who has really big boobs and he would just be like, ‘Yeah, she has, like, such big boobs that it’s hard not to look away from those, it’s hard to talk to her in the face’ and this was my contemporary.”
Stephanie recalled Guria referring to women as “that brick house” or being “built really well” and at times, commented on her own appearance and once made a remark about her breasts.
“He would always try to turn the conversation away from work, whether it was asking ‘Do you have a boyfriend,’ ‘Have you gone out,’ ‘I bet you like to party’ … trying to ask about your personal life,” said Stephanie, saying she too would leave her office to get away from Guria.
As time went on, McKenzie said the inappropriate interactions with Guria became less and less frequent.
“Once I got established, I felt confident enough to be like, ‘You’re disgusting’ but that’s the thing … he’s not really preying on people that are more established. He’s preying on the interns or the pro-bonos or the first-years, and the more I got advanced in the office, the less he did it.
“We used to call it ‘Graduating from Guria’ because he didn’t do that to anybody that was over 30.”
A clue during vetting
Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez and his top executives only learned of Guria’s appointment to the DOI when he tendered his resignation and were not consulted during the hiring and vetting process, a spokesperson said, while denying knowledge of his misconduct.
Gonzalez took over as King County’s top prosecutor in late 2016, following the death of former DA Ken Thompson.
Strauber said the DOI had been in touch with the office and said “the inquiries did not reveal any negative information.”
She insisted the DOI was “unaware” of the allegations uncovered by The Post but acknowledged they did reveal a clue about Guria’s behavior during their background investigation.
“DOI was unaware of the allegations … with the exception of a single, anonymous blog comment posted nine years ago and uncovered during DOI’s background investigation, stating that Mr. Guria made women at the office uncomfortable by ‘hitting on’ them,” Strauber said.
“When confronted with this allegation during his background investigation, Mr. Guria denied this conduct and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office subsequently relayed to DOI that Mr. Guria had never been subject to discipline during his 32 years in the office.”
Strauber described DOI’s background investigations and hiring processes as “comprehensive” and said the department relies “on an array of sources to assess a candidate’s qualifications and character, and to identify any areas of concern.”
While the agency’s vetting process can’t reveal information that wasn’t formally documented or provided to the DOI, the allegations made against Guria have led the department to consider “whether any improvements to our background and hiring processes should be made,” Strauber said.
“DOI understands why victims of sexual misconduct often do not come forward to file formal complaints,” she said.
Manning, the director of the Women’s Equal Justice Project, celebrated the DOI’s decision to rescind its offer to Guria.
“The mayor deserves a lot of credit for listening to women and the women who came forward deserve a lot of credit for speaking up,” said Manning.
“This man’s harmful behavior has gone on for a long time and a lot of people are going to be very grateful to see some real accountability.”
*Names have been changed
Additional reporting by Evan Simko-Bednarski
https://nypost.com/2022/08/18/nypd-watchdog-loses-job-over-sexual-harassment-allegations/ NYPD watchdog loses job over sexual harassment allegations