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DYRS chief’s integrity questioned

Fired staffer: Boss played favorites, sex charges untrue

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Toward the end of an oversight hearing Friday concerning the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, former youth corrections officer Keith McDaniel offered testimony that sharply questioned DYRS Director Neil Stanley's leadership, judgment, character and integrity.

Mr. Stanley survived a bruising confirmation process in 2011, but the hearing had gone about as well for him as could be expected, except that Mr. McDaniel, who says he was fired after being wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct, was asking D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, to obtain an investigative report he says will exonerate him.

Mr. McDaniel says the report will help expose a tale of "power, deceit and total abuse of authority" on the part of Mr. Stanley, a journeyman bureaucrat and former DYRS general counsel tapped by Mayor Vincent C. Gray despite unanimous opposition by the labor unions representing employees at DYRS.

"I am thoroughly confused, perplexed and angry about my termination," Mr. McDaniel said, as Mr. Stanley and fellow DYRS employees showed little outward reaction.

Agency officials declined to discuss the testimony after the hearing, and Mr. Stanley declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this report.

Management snitch

Mr. McDaniel says that prior to accusations against him, Mr. Stanley inappropriately urged him to go outside his chain of command and become an informant on managers who Mr. Stanley did not like. In exchange for becoming the director's snitch, Mr. Stanley promised to promote Mr. McDaniel into the positions of those he would be asked to denigrate, according to the testimony.

"It was obvious he wanted something more from me, because of his promises to me that if I acted a certain way towards my immediate supervisors, kept an eye on them and reported back to him, he would terminate them and promote me into one of their positions," Mr. McDaniel said during his testimony.

"Mr. Stanley would come to the Youth Services Center and would come straight to my location and spend a great amount of time talking with me about work and personal matters," he said. "He would state to me repeatedly that he disliked both deputy Superintendents Ms. Charlotte Richardson and Mr. Ronald Hutchins and that he was going to get rid of them."

Mr. McDaniel said he felt coerced by Mr. Stanley's overtures: "Mr. Stanley continued to make promises to me about promotions, provided his personal cellphone number to me and regularly invited me out for drinks. He also promised to hire my brother, if I continued to cooperate with him which he did.

"I felt I was being groomed in a manner that was crossing the line, yet I could not break ties with Mr. Stanley because he was my superior and he had already demonstrated that he manages by firing people whom he dislikes."

Ugly accusations

Mr. McDaniel was escorted last July from the Youth Services Center (YSC), which houses detained youth awaiting commitment, and placed on administrative leave, The Washington Times reported, when a 28-year-old female subordinate accused him of forcing her to repeatedly perform oral sex in his office, prompting investigations by local police, D.C. officials and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

"She performed the sexual acts because [the suspect] was her supervisor, and she believed she would lose her job if she did not perform the acts," stated a police report obtained by The Times.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Detective Lowell G. Grier was assigned to investigate the matter, according to internal emails obtained by The Times that identified Mr. McDaniel. Eventually, the matter was referred to the D.C. Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for investigation.

Mr. McDaniel later was fired.

The Times interviewed the woman who initiated the charges last July and has since interviewed Mr. McDaniel, but until now has withheld their names because of the sensitivity of the accusations and because police would not confirm that Mr. McDaniel was a suspect.

Last Friday, before Mr. McDaniel testified, The Times reported that a colleague of his also was placed on administrative leave because the woman who brought the charges feared retaliation by him. The name of the colleague, John Dowdy, a former acting deputy superintendent at YSC, has never surfaced in connection with sexual harassment or abuse.

Mr. Dowdy has sued the District and Mr. Stanley, charging violation of due process and breach of contract. In his lawsuit, he says he witnessed Mr. Stanley eliciting information from Mr. McDaniel to use against other DYRS managers, and that he, too, was approached by Mr. Stanley with similar overtures.

When Mr. Dowdy signaled an intent to pursue an equal-employment opportunity (EEO) action, he was fired, his lawsuits states — months before the OAG investigation of Mr. McDaniel was complete.

Collateral damage

Mr. Dowdy and Mr. McDaniel were not the only ones affected by the sex-abuse accusations.

Roderick Milstead, a former Washington Redskins guard working at YSC as a supervisory youth development representative, was informed of the accusations and referred the woman involved to a private employee-outreach program, the woman told The Times in her interview last July.

However, Mr. Dowdy's lawsuit states that Mr. Milstead failed to report the complaint up the chain of command and was placed on administrative leave. When Mr. Milstead returned to work, the lawsuit states, he was promoted to a higher-grade position in the agency.

The woman who initiated the charges was transferred out of YSC and into a new position, according to agency sources.

Others with knowledge of the accusations were sent to new positions without explanation, according to DYRS managers, citing "collateral damage" to those unwilling to do Mr. Stanley's bidding.

The Times has confirmed that the OAG investigation did not substantiate any wrongdoing.

Mr. Graham's office says it has requested a copy of the OAG investigation and will continue to do so.

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