Candidate accused of sexual harassment

DeMaine Kitchen

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Warning: This report may contain subject matter that may be offensive to some readers.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Youngstown mayoral candidate has been accused of sexually harassing a city employee.

City Council members have received a letter from the attorney representing Lindsey Hughes, Director of Downtown Events and Special Projects, accusing DeMaine Kitchen, who is currently on leave from his position as Chief of Staff for Youngstown Mayor Charles Sammarone, of making sexual advances toward her and requesting sexual favors over a period of two years.

The accusations in the letter state that the harassment began in 2011 while Hughes was an employee at City Hall. It goes on to say there were inappropriate text messages and comments, and physical contact that she said included Kitchen rubbing his erect penis on her.

The accusation also alleges that Hughes brought the sexual harassment to the attention of city officials in 2011 when Sammarone was President of Council. Then, Hughes claims Sammarone asked her “What do you expect? You are a pretty young girl.”

At that time, Hughes said a meeting was held that included herself, Sammarone and council member Jamal Tito Brown in which Kitchen, who walked in on the meeting, was told to stop contacting her and making advances toward her.

The lawyers wrote in the letter that the harrasment stopped for a time, but it started up again this past July when Hughes was coordinating the city’s Jazz Fest, claiming Kitchen spoke with Hughes about her appearance and his attraction to her. Hughes said she told him to stop, but Kitchen continued texting her. She also said when she was alone with Kitchen in her office, Kitchen allegedly smoothed his trousers over his erect penis in front of her.

After the festival, Council members suspended Hughes for five days while city police investigated the way she handled the event. Officers did not find any wrongdoing.

Hughes’ lawyers are now claiming both the suspension and the investigation were retaliatory and that Sammarone ignored her complaints.

Kitchen refused to talk on camera, but said the allegations are “unfounded, untrue and politically motivated.”

“I just question the timing for someone who is a volunteer for part of the campaign for McNally,” said Kitchen. “Very peculiar, curious to find out who is paying her legal fees. A lot of issues with credibility here. It’s politically motivated, no question about it.”

Sammarone wouldn’t go on camera either, saying he’s waiting for an outside investigation to be completed and there’s really nothing for him to talk about.

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