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County legislator accused of harassment while he says he's being extorted

Monroe County legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell
Max Schulte
Monroe County legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell

A Monroe County legislator says he’s being extorted because of a personal photo he accidentally sent to the wrong person.

The revelation came from Ernest Flagler-Mitchell (D-29), who leads the Black and Asian Caucus on the county legislature.

In a statement Flagler-Mitchell released on Saturday, he says that last November, he sent a photo intended for his wife to someone he was working with. The lawmaker says he apologized to the person who inadvertently got it. He says that individual accepted his apology and assured Flagler-Mitchell they were not offended.

But the legislator says since that time he has been contacted by politically connected people who have tried to use his mistake as a form of blackmail to force him and other legislators into abandoning the Black and Asian caucus in the county legislature.

A letter from a woman sent to members of the county legislature on Saturday claims that Flagler-Mitchell sexually harassed her and sent an unsolicited explicit photo to her.

The woman, who says she’s 19 years old, says that she has already been in touch with local authorities and she is also requesting an investigation by an ethics committee in Monroe County.

Flagler-Mitchell says he has consulted legal counsel and is asking law enforcement to investigate what he claims is extortion and hold those responsible, accountable. 

Bridget Harvey, a spokesperson and Chief of Staff for the Republican majority in the Monroe County Legislature released this statement:

“Any allegations of harassment should be taken seriously and thoroughly reviewed. The allegation has been aptly reported to the Board of Ethics and law enforcement. It would be premature and inappropriate for the Legislature or any Legislator to comment further at this time.”

The letters about the alleged harassment and accusations of extortion came out on the same day that Flagler-Mitchell was named president of the newly-reactivated local branch of the NAACP.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.