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Southern Nevada housing agency chief placed on probation

Updated August 15, 2019 - 9:08 pm

Southern Nevada Regional Housing Authority Executive Director Chad Williams will be placed on probation for six months and must attend ethics training following a sexual harassment investigation, the agency’s board decided Thursday.

Williams’ former secretary accused him of sexual harassment in February, spurring the housing authority’s legal counsel to hire an outside human resources firm to investigate the allegations.

After reviewing more than 930 text messages between Williams and the secretary, HRM Consulting Inc. concluded in June that the two had engaged in an “ongoing, consensual, mutually flirtatious and personal relationship,” according to a copy of a summary report of the investigation obtained by the Review-Journal.

The report states that Williams’ behavior was inappropriate and unprofessional, but investigators found no evidence that the executive director had violated the housing authority’s sexual harassment policy.

“We believe Mr. Williams had several violations of the personnel policies. We do not believe they rise to the level to justify termination,” said Commissioner Dan Shaw, who chaired a committee of four board members tasked with suggesting discipline for Williams.

The nine-member board voted 4-3 to impose the punishment. Commissioner Olivia Diaz, whose first board meeting was Thursday, abstained from voting. Another seat on the board is empty after former Commissioner Theresa Davis was declared ineligible to continue serving last month following a fraud investigation conducted by the housing authority.

The board was one vote shy of firing Williams over the investigation’s findings at a special meeting last month, which the executive director did not attend. Williams risks losing his job if he violates any of the housing authority’s personnel policies during his probationary period, Shaw said.

The committee originally suggested that Williams face a yearlong probationary period and lose one-month’s pay, but Shaw ultimately suggested the reduced punishment after Williams’ attorney, Adam Levine, said he thought it was too severe.

Williams told board members that he should remain executive director — a position he has held since June 2018 — because he had owned up to the misconduct and felt his leadership had been an overall boon to the housing authority.

“If you want me here for the reason why you’ve hired me, then keep me,” he told the commission.

Text messages made public

Housing authority attorney Teddy Parker said during Thursday’s meeting that text messages confirm Williams visited his secretary at her home at least five times after work between mid-September and early October.

The two made plans to drink wine together during the visits, according to hundreds of texts made public during Thursday’s meeting.

“They were coming in at various times in the evening,” Parker told the housing authority board. “Leaving later in the evening or early the next morning.”

Further allegations of misconduct were specified in a letter Parker sent to Williams and Levine on Aug. 5 and obtained by the Review-Journal.

The letter states that Williams and his secretary drank together at lunch during the workday, and that Williams encouraged her to have lunch and drinks with another member of his executive staff. The summary report of HRM Consulting’s investigation identified that staff member as Deputy Executive Director Theodore Tulle.

Parker’s letter also states Williams was alleged to have the housing authority pay the secretary for time she spent running personal errands with Williams and also for when she was not working.

“There are emails to and from you which confirm these events, in addition to other improper conduct,” Parker wrote.

The texts released Thursday also call into question Williams’ assertion that he never had a romantic or sexual relationship with the secretary, according to Parker’s letter.

“I don’t know when…. but one day.. I’m gonna want it, on that desk,” the secretary wrote Williams in September.

When the secretary came under scrutiny in October over her time card, Williams wrote in texts that he should “spank” her and that “pillow talk can’t save you from this one.”

And while Williams told the Review-Journal in an interview this month that he had stopped flirting with his secretary by Thanksgiving, Parker’s letter quoted an alleged text from Dec. 17 in which the executive director told his secretary to “give yourself to me fully and freely.”

“It is clear from these text messages that Mr. Williams misrepresented the extent of his relationship with the former employee and was untruthful with regards to spending time outside the office with the former employee at the former employee’s residence,” Parker wrote.

Levine told the housing authority board on Thursday that the investigator’s summary report was incorrect when it claimed Williams said he never visited the secretary’s home. He also underscored that Williams had been cleared by the investigation.

“You have his assurances going forward this will not happen again,” Levine said.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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