A Butler County custodian, who along with officials in his school district is accused in a sexual harassment federal lawsuit, was previously suspended for “inappropriate and unprofessional” language, according to district records.
According to documents obtained by the Journal-News, Edgewood schools custodian Daniel Benjamin was placed on paid leave in September 2018 and reprimanded for making a comment to a female employee.
Edgewood Director of Human Resources Alesia Beckett also wrote in an Aug. 23, 2018, letter to Benjamin he was being ordered to “complete professional development specifically focused on anti-harassment and professionalism in the workplace.”
Benjamin, who is married to Edgewood Board of Education member Beth Benjamin, was named along the board, superintendent and Edgewood Middle School Principal David Slamer in a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. District Court of Cincinnati by former school custodian Leslie Sizemore.
Phone messages seeking comment from Daniel Benjamin or Beth Benjamin have not been returned. Requests relayed through Sizemore’s attorney to the former Edgewood custodian elicited no comments.
Sizemore claims in her lawsuit Edgewood officials did not take preventive action to protect her despite her complaints, forcing her resignation in 2018.
Sizemore accuses Benjamin and district officials of creating “a hostile work environment and rose to the level of sexual harassment as his (Benjamin) conduct was unwelcome, severe and pervasive.”
The Journal-News was the first to report on the federal lawsuit.
Sizemore claims school officials “took no action between September 2017 through July 2018 to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment.”
Among the accusations against Benjamin is that he made gestures toward Sizemore with his fingers and tongue simulating a sex act.
Benjamin also conducted unwanted hugging and touching and on one occasion followed Sizemore into a janitorial closet in the Edgewood Middle School and allegedly touched her sexually, according to the lawsuit.
Sizemore says in the lawsuit she left her job with Edgewood on Aug. 10, 2018, claiming she was “forced out of work as a direct and proximate result of the policy of inaction of defendants Edgewood Schools, including Principal Slamer and the board members.”
Records also show Sizemore filed a complaint of misconduct with Edgewood in October 2018 — concerning an unnamed school employee — but officials said their investigation “concluded that there is no evidence to support the allegations raised.”
When asked to comment on the lawsuit, Edgewood schools spokeswoman Pam Pratt said “we are working with our legal counsel on this matter and cannot comment at this time.”
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.