A top official with the Office of Congressional Ethics is now among the growing number of men accused of sexual misconduct with women and for using his powerful position in the unethical ways that his committee investigates when claims are made against House lawmakers.
Omar Ashmawy, staff director and chief counsel at the ethics office, is named in an ongoing lawsuit being litigated in a Pennsylvania federal court, according to a Foreign Policy report.
The report said charges in the lawsuit include verbal and physical assault against women in a late-night brawl on Valentine’s Day in 2015.
According to FP, three women at the bar that night, including the bartender, have accused Ashmawy of harassing them verbally and physically.
Ashmawy was never charged or arrested, according to the report, but two months later, three men were arrested for assaulting him. He was the only one who suffered injuries that night, according to FP.
In September, one of the men charged with assaulting Ashmawy, Greg Martucci, filed a lawsuit against Ashmawy related to the 2015 event. His suit was filed in federal court in Pennsylvania.
In his lawsuit, Martucci accuses Ashmawy of using his political power and position with the Office of Congressional Ethics to pressure the police and the district attorney into not arresting him for assaulting the women. Martucci also alleges that Ashmawy threatened federal investigation of local government and police if they did not press charges against those accusing him of assault.
For his part, Ashmawy denies the charges in the original lawsuit, according to a statement he provided to FP.
“To be clear, I did not harass anyone that evening, physically or verbally,” Ashmawy said in the statement. “To the contrary, I was the victim of a wholly unprovoked assault for which those responsible were investigated, arrested and charged. Any allegation to the contrary is unequivocally false.”
Ashmawy has previously filed a motion to dismiss, and on December 6, he filed a brief in support of that motion to dismiss, saying he was the victim that night, according to FP.
The Milford Borough and its police chief have filed similar motions to dismiss, and a conference with attorneys for all parties to the lawsuit is scheduled before a judge on January 5, 2018, FP reported.
FB also reported on some of the cases Ashmawy’s office has been involved in:
According to the website of the Office of Congressional Ethics, it has pursued investigations into Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), whose cases, like that of Conyers, began under Ashmawy and were referred to the ethics committee for further investigation. The New York Times this week reported that Republicans are citing a 2015 decision by the Office of Congressional Ethics clearing Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), who has also been accused of sexual harassment.
Meanwhile, FP could be facing problems over its reporting.
“Please be advised that the official response on behalf of Milford Borough and Chief DaSilva is ‘No comment during the course of pending litigation,’” Sheryl L. Brown, an attorney with the firm Siana Bellwoar, wrote FP in response to queries.
“We reserve the right to subpoena unprivileged portions of your files considering you assert you are in possession of ‘police statements from witnesses,’” Brown wrote.