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Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell out as local NAACP president

Feb 4, 2021

Credit Max Schulte / WXXI News

The recently reactivated Rochester branch of the NAACP has replaced beleaguered Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell as its new president.

Flagler-Mitchell was installed as the chapter president in a ceremony on Jan. 16, about two hours before news broke that he had been accused of sexual harassment by sending a sexually explicit photo, and other suggestive text messages, to a 19-year-old woman.

The Democratic legislator, who is 42 and married with eight children, has since acknowledged sending a sexually explicit photo to the woman, Lakaya Sinclair, who is now 20, and has explained that the photo was meant for his wife.

Members of the NAACP reportedly had no comment on the allegations against Flagler-Mitchell when they became public.

But the organization issued a statement this week concerning the pepper-spraying of a handcuffed 9-year-old girl by Rochester police from the chapter president — who was notably not Flagler-Mitchell.

The statement was from John Singleton III, who was listed as the president of the branch. Neither Singleton nor Flagler-Mitchell returned messages left for them for comment.

Reached by phone, the chapter’s communications chairperson, Barbara Singleton-Pradia, confirmed that Singleton was now the president, but declined to answer questions about the status of Flagler-Mitchell within the organization and how his installation was reversed.

“John Singleton III is our president,” she said.

RELATED: Democrats call for outside probe of Flagler-Mitchell

The Rochester branch of the NAACP dates to 1919. But it was reportedly plagued by organizational problems and by the 1960s became overshadowed by other civil rights groups in town. Until its reboot three weeks ago, the branch had essentially been inactive.

A complaint against Flagler-Mitchell has been lodged with the Monroe County Board of Ethics.

Flagler-Mitchell was thought to be the subject of a meeting of the board on Thursday. While the board did not speak of Flagler-Mitchell by name, it went into executive session and, upon emerging, voted to hire an independent investigator to look into a complaint regarding "a particular county officer."

David Andreatta is CITY's editor. He can be reached at dandreatta@rochester-citynews.com.