Madison's civil rights office couldn't find proof that Ald. Brian Solomon sexually harassed an assistant city clerk at work, according to a report released Tuesday. Investigators also determined they couldn't judge the merits of the clerk's sexual assault allegation against Solomon.
But the 13-week investigation by the Department of Civil Rights questioned the appropriateness of council members socializing with clerk's office staff responsible for handling elections and recommended the council adopt a policy on personal relationships with city employees.
Elena Berg claimed she was pressured to start a romantic relationship and later assaulted by Solomon at her apartment in the early morning of April 14, 2010. Solomon says he did no wrong and that sexual contact was consensual.
In a 20-page report released Tuesday morning, a civil rights office investigative team found that under city policies Solomon didn't sexually harass Berg at work and made no determinations on what happened between Berg and Solomon in her apartment because the incident did not occur at work.
"I'm hoping this is over," Solomon said. "Unfortunately, I feel this is going to be with me the rest of my life."
Berg challenged the report, saying the civil rights office did not fully investigate and drew conclusions to protect the city's interests, which will be chilling to other victims.
"There was no investigation," she said. "I don't know what you call this. It's shameful."
Civil rights director Lucia Nunez didn't return a call for comment.
The 20-page report is among hundreds of pages of documents related to the investigation released by the civil rights office Tuesday. The records included emails between Berg and Solomon, including a flurry of exchanges during a marathon council meeting on Dec. 15-16, 2009. The investigators recommended the council get more familiar with harassment and discrimination rules, and said they were "deeply disturbed" Berg and Solomon while intoxicated easily accessed the clerk's office unsupervised in the early morning hours of April 14.
The council has already begun discussions on new rules for its behavior.
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Mayor Paul Soglin declined comment on the report. The city, he said, has strong policies on harassment and discrimination and the council must decide its rules. Security of the clerk's office can be reviewed by a city-Dane County building committee, he said.
Berg, Solomon and four council members were at the Bayou bar together after an April 13, 2010 council meeting, according to city and state investigations.
Solomon drove Berg, who was drunk, to her Sun Prairie apartment, investigations say. Berg invited him to spend the night and consensual kissing occurred on the walk back to the car and on her bed that evening, the investigations say. Berg claimed she went to sleep fully clothed and awoke naked at 5 a.m. to Solomon penetrating her with his fingers, they say. Solomon maintains he did nothing "immoral or unethical, much less illegal."
In September 2010, Berg filed a criminal complaint against Solomon. The Dane County District Attorney's Office said it believed Berg but decided not to pursue a case based on whether a jury would agree — unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt — that she did not consent.
On Aug. 31, 2011, Berg filed a sexual harassment complaint with the city.
• Berg and Solomon had a consensual friendship from December 2009 through at least mid-April 2010.
• At the Bayou, Solomon entered the restroom while Berg was occupying a stall, and that his entry was "indisputably unwelcomed and uninvited" by Berg. Solomon said he feared for her well being, but the team was unable to determine his motive or that his behavior was sexual harassment.
• The sexual assault allegation came to a single issue: "whether the entire sexual conduct between Ms. Berg and Ald. Solomon was consensual. Both Ms. Berg and Ald. Solomon gave accounts of these events that differed over time, contradicted one another, and are incapable of being reconciled."