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As the aftermath of a violent dispute between a local legislator and a former staffperson in his office plays itself out in the public eye, there’s a great deal of he-said, she-said going around.
Lucretia John, who had worked for a year and a half in the office of State Senator Kevin Parker, has accused the senator of pushing her and breaking her glasses after a dispute between the two broke out at Parker’s campaign headquarters on September 13, four days after Parker scored a primary victory over City Councilmembers Simcha Felder and Kendall Stewart.
In return, Parker is accusing John of striking him, and both parties to the dispute have taken their complaints to the police, who are currently investigating the allegations.
According to John, who spoke of the incident during a phone interview, Parker had, on the day in question, “made a number of comments to everyone there that we weren’t listening to what he was saying, that we weren’t packing everything up correctly.”
He then turned his criticism to her, John said. “To hear him talk to me like that, especially in front of the volunteers, upset me so much,” she recalled. “It made me feel like he wasn’t treating me with respect or dignity.”
As the situation escalated, John continued, she decided to quit her job and began to leave the campaign office. “He followed me to the staircase, yelling and screaming in my ear,” she said. “As I was going down the stairs, he was right behind me. I’m telling him, don’t touch me. I could hear all of his words, feel all of the spit from his mouth. He was so angry. I didn’t want the situation to get worse so I’m pushing him away from me. He’s pushing me. I wanted him to stop pushing me and stop screaming at me because I didn’t know what he was going to do. My glasses fell off, and fell to the base of the stairs. He’s yelling. I’m yelling. Someone pulls him away, but, before he leaves, he stomps on my glasses.
“I don’t get into fights with people, if there’s a way I can get out of a situation by having a conversation,” John went on. She said she went to the police because, “What he did was wrong. To have him say I was worthless and meaningless, I had to report it. I would much rather that this not be in the public eye, but I do think it’s important that he not malign my name.”
For this reason, John had “filed a criminal complaint” against Parker, said attorney Arlene Boop, of Alterman & Boop, the firm that John hired to represent her. She has not yet “filed a lawsuit or charges with an administrative agency,” Boop added.
Parker’s report of the incident is vastly different. While the two agree that there was a dispute, Parker said that it was John who went after him.
“My staff and I were at the campaign office cleaning up,” Parker recalled. “About five hours into it, I had a situation where I had to fire one of my employees, Lucretia John. Afterward, she goes into a tirade, yelling and cursing and threatening me, then she hauls off and hits me in the face. I was trying to escort her out of the building when she hit me once in the face then pounded on my chest. At no time did I lay a hand on her, push her or touch her, but she did hit me. I didn’t touch her. I didn’t break her glasses. I didn’t do any of that.
“Part of this is that she had been a poor employee, very lazy,” Parker added. “She didn’t catch on quickly and was generally insubordinate. The firing had been coming to a head for a long time, but I still hoped to resolve the situation without a big public mess.”
As a result of the incident, and after John had filed her complaint Parker said he had “pressed charges for third degree assault. I have witnesses of what happened, from beginning to end, and to her work in the office,” he added.
Parker said that, in his view, John had decided to capitalize on the occurrence. “She’s essentially looking for money,” he opined, “so she hired a lawyer and then proceeded to file a complaint. My understanding is that no charges were filed because I hadn’t committed a crime.
“I am going to pursue my charges against her to the fullest extent of the law,” Parker added. “I’m going to fight tooth and nail to defend myself against any criminal charges and against any possible lawsuit she may bring. I’m not going to allow someone to benefit from a lawsuit when her poor performance in office hasn’t served the people of my district.”
John, however, when asked about Parker’s assertion, said that her concern was not about money. “Senator Parker knows that’s not true,” she told this paper. “I know he considers himself to be a good judge of character. I don’t think he would have had me work in his office if he thought I had a malicious purpose. I’m not in this for malicious purposes. I’m not trying to hurt people.”
This is not the first time that Parker has made headlines. Back in 2005, he was arrested and charged with assaulting a traffic agent who was writing him a ticket for a double-parked vehicle. Those charges were dropped, though Parker did attend anger management classes as a result of the incident.
Some years back, Parker was also accused by political rival Wellington Sharpe of assaulting him, though Sharpe did not file charges; another accusation, by a senate staffer, that Parker had assaulted her, was investigated by then-Senate Minority Leader David Paterson, though no action was taken in that matter.
The prior reports, as well as negative campaign literature over the past few weeks, set the stage, said Parker, for the current allegations. “It’s created an atmosphere when I don’t have to do anything, because of the past allegations, none of them being true,” he told this paper.
“Frankly,” Parker added, “for me, this is all a distraction from the work that needs to be done so I’m pushing forward to continue the work of the people. I’m not going to allow anything to sidetrack me.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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