A former Reading official has accused Mayor Eddie Moran of sexual harassment, propositioning her for sex and then firing her when she rejected his sexual requests, according to a lawsuit filed in Berks County Court.
Former City Solicitor Elizabeth Kraft filed a lawsuit against the city of Reading and Moran on Nov. 10, accusing them of violating her civil rights. The lawsuit states that Moran frequently made comments about her appearance, requested hugs and asked Kraft to accompany him on a trip to Puerto Rico while his wife remained in Reading.
“When City of Reading Mayor Eddie Moran was inaugurated in January 2020, he promised the city’s residents that “integrity” would be one of the ‘pillars’ of his administration,” the lawsuit states. “Given the behavior Moran subsequently directed toward City Solicitor A. Elizabeth Kraft, that ‘pillar’ has yet to be set. Because Moran sexually harassed and propositioned (Kraft).”
Moran denied the allegations.
“Anyone who has come in contact with me knows how much I value my family,” Moran said in a statement. “I am the proud son of a single mother and have always been supremely loyal to my wife and twin sons. These charges are simply not credible and are outright fabrications. I am confident in the legal process, and want the citizens of this great city to know, that I will not allow these baseless allegations to distract me from the important and necessary work on behalf of the city of Reading.”
Kraft’s attorney, Marc E. Weinstein, contended that the actions alleged in the lawsuit had an impact on everyone in Reading.
“Elizabeth Kraft is not the only victim here,” Weinstein said. “The citizens of the city of Reading are also victims. They lost a highly skilled and dedicated public servant for no good reason.”
The lawsuit claims Moran insisted that Kraft smile when she was around him and encouraged his staff to make the same demands.
“In one particularly degrading incident, in a meeting among (Kraft), Moran and Managing Director Abe Amoros, Moran concluded the meeting by insisting that (Kraft) remove her mask so that Moran could see (Kraft) was smiling,” the lawsuit states.
Moran regularly made remarks about Kraft’s appearance and clothing in front of other staff members and department heads, the suit states.
The lawsuit states that Moran also invited Kraft to go to Puerto Rico with him. The mayor flew to Puerto Rico at the end of November 2020 for a nine-day trip to visit the island, his family and his hometown, Hatillio. Some Reading residents criticized Moran’s trip to the island during the height of the pandemic.
The suit also claims Moran invited Kraft to his home when his wife was in Puerto Rico.
Kraft declined all of Moran’s propositions and “was steadily ostracized,” eventually ending with her removal from office, the lawsuit states.
Moran fired Kraft in February but did not give a reason, declining to comment because it was a personnel matter.
Kraft was given no notice or reason for her termination, and when the attorney tried to explain that she could only be fired by City Council, she was threatened with arrest for trespassing, according to the lawsuit.
A lawsuit was also filed in Berks County Court by Kraft, claiming Moran improperly removed her from office. That matter is still in the courts.
The city’s charter board launched an investigation into Moran’s firing of Kraft. That investigation is still in progress.
The lawsuit claims Moran took issue with Kraft because she tried to prevent wrongdoing and waste, but the suit did not go into detail on that issue. Weinstein said Kraft can’t disclose the specific waste and wrongdoing in the lawsuit because of attorney-client privilege. Specific instances of waste and wrongdoing could come out in court.
In his statement, Moran called the accusations in the lawsuit nothing short of bullying.
“I am saddened by the fact that the former solicitor has resorted to desperate measures to bully the city of Reading and me through these false and malicious allegations,” the mayor said. “The court has already ruled against her in her initial attempt to be reinstated to her former position after she was properly terminated. I am confident that my name and reputation will be cleared in by the legal process, and I am exploring all available remedies under the law.”
Kraft claims she suffered damages including, but not limited to, denial of employment, harm to reputation, lost wages, lost fringe benefits, lost seniority, emotional pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
She is seeking her lost pay and benefits, including but not limited to back pay, front pay, interest, salary, pay increases, bonuses, insurance, benefits, training, promotions, lost 401(k) or retirement benefits and seniority.
Kraft is also seeking compensatory damages for pain, suffering, and humiliation caused by actions of Moran and the city, the lawsuit states.
Source: Berkshire mont