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P.G. County sought to keep details of harassment suit secret

Order filed to halt lawyer from holding news conference

Lawyers for Prince George’s County were seeking to halt a news conference this week where they alleged details of a “confidential internal investigation of an employee’s conduct” would be revealed, according to court documents.

The protective order was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt in connection with a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a former county health department employee, Oreadea Treadwell, against her supervisor, Christopher Oladipo. The motion included multiple emails between Ted J. Williams, Treadwell’s lawyer, and county lawyers since April 14 about the possibility of a news conference and what Williams might say.

The motion and the emails were available in the federal online case record for most of Monday until they were sealed in the late afternoon, about an hour after The Daily Record called a Prince George’s County spokesman with questions about the motion. Scott L. Peterson, press secretary for County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, said the protective order was supposed to be sealed at the time of filing.

According to Williams’ emails, he was planning at the news conference to ask the state’s attorney’s office and federal prosecutors to open a criminal investigation of Oladipo, saying “two different women have sought peace orders against Mr. Oladipo and three different women have filed sexual harassment claims against him,” and there had also been an extortion allegation.

“Corruption is alive and well in Prince George’s County,” Williams wrote.

Williams, in an interview Monday, said the news conference has been postponed so he can focus on responding to the county’s protective order, which is due by May 8.

“I think it’s fear on part of the county that more corruption is going to be exposed,” said Williams, a Washington solo practitioner.

Peterson said he could not comment on the sexual harassment complaints because they are a personnel matter. No final peace orders have been entered against Oladipo, he added.

Treadwell’s “petitions were dismissed because she either failed to appear or the court determined that her complaint was not credible according to the court file,” Peterson said. “This is public record.”

Treadwell’s lawsuit claims she received the peace order in July 2010.

The lawsuit, filed in January 2013, alleged Treadwell was subjected to “a highly charged, unwelcome, sexually hostile and offensive working environment.”

Treadwell also filed a complaint with the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission, which in April 2012 “found sufficient evidence to support [Treadwell’s] charge that Defendant Oladipo subjected her to sex discrimination by creation of a hostile work environment and by quid pro quo demands for sex to maintain her employment and benefits,” according to the complaint.

The HRC also talked to other employees who “attested to Oladipo’s disparate and demeaning treatment of women” and found a prior sexual harassment charge brought against Oladipo in 2008, although it did not learn the case’s outcome, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit also alleges the Nigerian-born Oladipo “forced nurses from Nigeria and other African countries to pay money as de facto bribes for him to hire them and, after he hired them, he would force them to meet him at a specific hotel to have sex with him.”

Under the terms of an agreement reached in the litigation in February, any confidential personnel information produced by the county during discovery or revealed during depositions could not be disclosed. Lawyers for the county, in emails to Williams, expressed concern he would violate the agreement as well as professional rules of conduct.

“If you hold a press conference and disclose information that you obtained during the discovery process, we will move for sanctions and report the matter to the bar,” wrote Tonia Belton-Gofreed, an associate county attorney, in an email sent the morning of April 15.

Williams responded less than an hour later accusing county lawyers of “covering up for Oladipo.”

“By the way, you should know that the extortion and all of the above was learned of before discovery,” Williams wrote. “Discovery confirmed what was already known.”

Williams said Treadwell’s contract with the county was terminated soon after she filed her lawsuit. Peterson, the county spokesman, confirmed she no longer worked for the government but said she was let go “for reasons unrelated to the lawsuit.” Oladipo, the father of NBA player Victor Oladipo, still works for the county government, according to Peterson.