Former aide accuses Hartford council president of harassment

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HARTFORD — The president of the Hartford City Council has been accused of sexual harassment and discrimination by a former aide.

The Hartford Courant reports the aide filed a complaint on Dec. 13 with the state's Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities against Council President Thomas "TJ" Clarke II. The complaint also names City Clerk John Bazzano and Olga Colon, a former council assistant.

The former aide charged that Clark, Bazzano, and Colon discriminated against her because she is white. Clarke is black, Bazzano is white and Colon is Hispanic.

The complaint also alleges, among other things, that Clarke sent the aide numerous inappropriate text messages about her appearance and sex life.

Messages seeking comment were referred to the city's corporation counsel, who did not immediately return them.

Clarke released the following statement:

“Myself, Olga Colon and John Bazzano are subject to a CHRO complaint by a former city employee involving labor and personnel matters. I find the timing of this complaint suspicious, and am concerned that there may be political agendas at work. That said, it was never my intention to upset, offend, or make anyone uncomfortable and to that extent that I might have done so, I apologize profusely.

I look forward to a full and transparent exploration of this issue and I pledge my full cooperation. As this involves a city matter, we are being represented through the Office of the Corporation Counsel and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,”

Hartford mayor Luke Bronin released the following statement:

“The behavior detailed in this complaint is inexcusable from a person in a position of authority.  Based on the text messages included in this complaint, I do not believe that Council President Clarke can continue to serve in a position of leadership in the City of Hartford.”

***Associated Press contributed to this report***