ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After six months of back-and-forth, the investigation into the alleged sexual harassment, discrimination, and policy violations of various members of the Rochester Police Accountability Board (PAB) has concluded.

The 95-page report on the incidents — created by a third-party investigator unaffiliated with the RPD, PAB, or the City of Rochester — was released just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday. It was shared simultaneously to the PAB and the city, and then almost immediately made public.

“We […] are immediately sharing it with the public to be as transparent and accountable as possible,” City Council President Miguel A. Melendez Jr. said in a statement.

Shortly after the release, PAB Deputy Chief of Public Information Vanessa Cheeks stated that the PAB would not be commenting publicly about the findings “at this time.”

The PAB was created in 2019, and began receiving cases in June 2022. The purpose of the organization is to review complaints against the RPD. However, the organization has been rocked by a series of scandals, the most prominent of which surround former executive director Conor Dwyer Reynolds, who was placed on administrative leave in May.

In June, Dwyer Reynolds went public with his side of the story, publishing a detailed account to his personal blog. He claimed that then-PAB chair Shani Wilson had been sexually harassing him, and, a week after he reported her, used her power at the PAB to get him suspended. Wilson, who denied the claims, stepped down nonetheless.

Additionally, there have been other alleged violations of city and PAB policy. In October, the board called for the firing of acting manager Duwaine Bascoe, who replaced Dwyer Reynolds in May, accusing him of “significant management issues.”

The lengthy report investigates all these claims, speaking with 39 witnesses on 25 total issues of harassment, policy violation, and or/discrimination.

Report Findings

Most of the claims made by and against members of the PAB were not substantiated, the report said — including all claims of sexual harassment. What the report did substantiate was claims that Dwyer Reynolds had repeatedly disregarded city policy and practices.

Multiple witnesses said that Wilson and Dwyer Reynolds had “mutual romantic interest and attraction” between them. However, the report did find that Wilson’s conduct regarding her and Dwyer Reynolds personal matters as “wholly improper,” and claimed that her conduct during a private meeting at Dwyer Reynolds house was “incredibly inappropriate.”

The report added: “behavior occurring on one occasion does not give rise to an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.”

Dwyer Reynolds identified his suspension from the PAB as retaliatory, the report says, however the findings showed that Wilson “had no role in the vote to remove him,” regardless of her personal beliefs on his capability in the role.

Additionally, claims of sexual harassment, retaliation, and discrimination, “made by and against other PAB employees could not be substantiated.” These other claims involved unnamed employees.

The report found Dwyer Reynolds guilty of several policy and practice violations. In one such instance, the report said that after discovering a PAB employee hired as a Staff Attorney had not passed the required NYS bar exam, Dwyer Reynolds granted that employee paid time off to study for the bar exam.

Through his own admissions, witness interviews, documents, and records, the report found that Dwyer Reynolds has repeatedly disregarded city policy and practice, engaged inappropriately regarding to confidential documents, and exercised poor judgment in relation to staff relations and employee practices.

These include providing members of the media copies of internal emails, and using his computer to access PAB email while on a leave of absence during the investigation — a violation of directives. Additionally, Dwyer downloaded information to a thumb drive that the report said is still in his possession.

Suggestions

Ultimately the report does not recommend Dwyer Reynolds be reinstated as the Executive Director of the PAB.

“Dwyer Reynolds exhibited during his active tenure, and continues to demonstrate, poor
leadership and inappropriate behaviors that make him unsuitable to serve as Executive Director of the PAB,” the report reads. “He has further demonstrated a pattern of rationalizing his behavior with policy interpretations that strain credulity.”

“Retaining him in PAB leadership creates ongoing legal risks including the potential disclosure of confidential records, mishandling of personnel matters, and disregard of City policies.”

The report also details suggestions for claims related to the other unnamed employees. Among the suggestions: put certain employees through various communications trainings; merge City of Rochester and PAB HR teams to ensure policy compliance; institute policies against bullying to ensure a respectful and professional environment; and revise suspension polices to forbid the suspended employee from communicating with current or former city employees for the duration of the leave.

Dwyer Reynolds Reaction

In an interview with News 8 Wednesday, Reynolds viewed the report as a positive.

“I encourage people to read the whole report. It vindicates me. It says that the majority of complaints against me were unsubstantiated — and the ones where they found I did something wrong, it was in the case of sharing information with the media and giving an employee too much time off. And most importantly it found that my boss engaged in ‘wholly inappropriate’ behavior towards me,'” said Reynolds, adding “I look forward to going back to work.”

Reynolds said he was surprised the report, — in his words,– found he was sexually harassed, but is not being treated as such. He says under the law, it’s certainly sexual harassment. “Your boss can’t interfere with your sex life and proposition you,” he said.

He added we need people to not be punished for being whistle-blowers. “This report confirms I blew the whistle on my boss and shortly afterward, faced a barrage of complaints, most of which were unfounded.”


The investigation was conducted by the law firm Constangy Brooks, Smith and Prophete (CBSP). The national firm specializes in labor and employment law, and exclusively represents management.

“We are as eager as everyone else in the community to read it, to digest its contents and to review its recommendations,” Melendez stated at the time of release. “All of us who believe in holding our police department accountable to the public will be reviewing this important document, so we can finally get the PAB on track to begin the work it was created to do.”


Check back with News 8 WROC as we continue to update this developing story.

Christian Garzone contributed to the reporting for this article.

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