Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes this week denied sexual harassment allegations made against him, saying the claimant is exaggerating and misrepresenting statements he made, betraying his trust and the trust of his family.
The claim was filed with Kings County by a 40-year-old male county employee on July 6 alleging numerous incidents beginning in 2018, when the complainant was going through a divorce and staying in an apartment next to Fagundes’ home.
“Now the claim is basically like an insurance claim — this is the first step in which they put the county on notice that there might be something,” said Maggie Mello, Fagundes’ attorney. “A great percentage of these claims never actually get to the filing of a lawsuit, so we’re anticipating one might be filed here, but not necessarily so.”
According to the claim, Fagundes engaged in inappropriate behavior with the complainant that included multiple, sexually explicit text messages and comments, staring at his crotch, and inappropriate touching. The claimant will have to go into medical retirement due to the severity of the psychological trauma that was inflicted on him, the claim states.
Fagundes, in an interview Monday, denied ever touching the claimant in a sexual manner and says that while crude text messages were sent, they were sent by both parties and the complainant initiated a fair share of them. Fagundes and Mello further said there are over 130,000 text messages between the two, and specific texts brought up in the claim are lacking context.
“The relationship seemed to be mutually accepted both ways, it seemed to be one of a trusted relationship, it seemed to be one of a lot of banter, a lot of crude innuendos sometimes even, but the things we did, you can imagine like two college buddies hanging out, being crude and horseplay,” Fagundes said.
Fagundes added that the back-and-forth texts included messages from the claimant wanting to know when the DA would be back from church because he wanted he and his family to come to his daughter’s birthday.
In one of the texts, according to the claim, an ad image was sent that read, “Massage — 60 minute massage includes head $20,” referring to oral sex. Fagundes said the text was related to an investigation being conducted by someone in his office.
“We [one of my attorneys] had headed up an investigation of massage parlors, and it was on the heels of other verbal banter and conversations that it actually came up on a feed somewhere, and I came across it. But it was like: ‘Really? This gets advertised?’ That’s how it was put out there to him.”
Mello says the claim has affected the office because staff has had to explain the situation to friends and family. She stressed that the community needs to focus on the job Fagundes is doing as the district attorney first and foremost.
“Keith is the elected district attorney. He’s been elected to do that job – he’s going to continue to do that job. This is something that they’re trying to take him away from doing his work,” she said.
A call to the claimant's lawyer was not returned Tuesday.