Ex-Wilmington employee’s lawsuit says Councilman Ciro Adams sexually harassed her

A lawsuit accuses Councilman Adams of rubbing her behind and calling her a “beautiful black woman.” (City of Wilmington)

A lawsuit accuses Councilman Adams of rubbing her behind and calling her a “beautiful black woman.” (City of Wilmington)

A former social media manager for Wilmington City Council alleges in a lawsuit against the city that Councilman Ciro Adams sexually harassed her and city officials retaliated against her for complaining.

Lorener Wooten accuses Adams of inappropriate conduct at an unspecified “city-approved social event” in 2017. Her lawsuit says Adams “touched and rubbed” her behind and whispered to her that she was a “beautiful black woman.” She claims he pushed him off and walked away, then told a fellow employee and left.

Adams, who is white, disputes the accusations.

“The lawsuit appears to be politically motivated,” said Adams, the lone Republican on the 13-member Council. “I would like to comment further, but because this matter is in active litigation, on advice of counsel I will not.”

The lawsuit says Wooten told Council President Hanifa Shabazz, who indicated she would investigate the matter. Wooten took family and other leave after the incident, returning in January 2018.

That month Wooten met with a city human resources official, which hired an outside investigator to look into the matter, the lawsuit said.

Wooten’s lawsuit said that investigator concluded that Adams engaged in “questionable behavior” in professional settings and appears not to completely understand social cues. The lawsuit did not contain the text of that report.

Wooten filed a federal discrimination complaint against the city in July of 2018. She says the city retaliated a month later by suspending her after she made an “inadvertent” religious post on its Twitter account.

The suspension became indefinite, the lawsuit said.

City records show that her employment ended in November 2018, communications director John Rago said. Her salary was $42,500. Rago said officials “are not able to comment on pending litigation involving personnel matters.”

Wooten, whose lawsuit said she now lives in Florida, could not be reached. Her attorney, former Council President Theo Gregory, would not comment. Neither would Council President Shabazz.

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