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Suzanne Barr resigns from ICE over sexual misconduct allegations

9:59 AM, Sep 3, 2012   |    comments
Suzanne Barr is accused of helping create a culture of sexual discrimination against men.
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(USA TODAY) -- A top official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement has resigned after allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior lodged by at three ICE employees, the Associated Press is reporting.

Suzanne Barr, the agency's chief of staff, called the allegations unfounded in a resignation letter to ICE Director John Morton, but said she wants to avoid distractions for the agency.

Barr is a political appointee of President Obama and a long-time aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The complaints against Barr are included in a sexual discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by a senior ICE agent in May.

The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of Barr's resignation letter, reports:

In her letter to Morton, Barr said she has been the subject of "unfounded allegations designed to destroy my reputation" and is resigning "with great regret." ...

Barr went on leave last month after the New York Post reported on the lawsuit filed by James T. Hayes Jr., ICE's special agent in charge in New York. Additional employees came forward with their allegations around the same time. ...

In one complaint, Barr is accused of telling a male subordinate he was "sexy" and asking a personal question about his anatomy during an office party. In a separate complaint, she is accused of offering to perform a sex act with a male subordinate during a business trip in Bogota, Colombia. She's also accused of calling a male subordinate from her hotel room and offering to perform a sex act. The names of two of Barr's accusers were censored in affidavits reviewed by AP.

Homeland Security's office of professional responsibility and inspector general have been investigating the allegations.

Prior to the lawsuit, there were no complaints about Barr, according to a homeland security official who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

In the lawsuit, Hayes described a "frat house" atmosphere at ICE designed to humiliate male employees under Barr's leadership. Hayes, who was transferred to New York from ICE headquarters in Washington, is asking for more than $4 million that, among other things, would cover compensation he believes he is owed for relocation expenses and financial losses associated with his transfer.


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