Philadelphia Museum of Art director Timothy Rub on Friday apologized to employees for the institution’s handling of James A. Cincotta, the museum’s former retail director, who was allowed to remain in his job for at least two years after being accused of hitting and slapping workers.
“We deeply regret that anyone suffered or felt demeaned by his misconduct,” Rub wrote in an email to staff. “And just as important, we apologize for not having taken even more decisive action in 2016 when complaints about Mr. Cincotta were first reviewed and remedial measures were taken. In retrospect, these were insufficient, and this is a matter of the deepest regret."
The letter was sent Friday, hours after The Inquirer reported that Cincotta, hired in 2015, prompted multiple complaints from workers who said he slapped, punched, pinched, shoved, grabbed, and berated them.
In early 2016, Cincotta, 57, was the subject of an internal investigation after he allegedly hit a gift-shop worker, who was in her 20s, in the back of the head. She quit that day; he kept his job until being fired in June 2018.
Nine former and current museum employees told The Inquirer they experienced or saw Cincotta grabbing, hitting, and slapping staffers. Ten current and former employees said they reported physical or verbal abuse to the museum’s human resources department.
In the email, Rub cited the “appalling behavior” reported by The Inquirer, and said the museum will investigate misconduct complaints and take disciplinary action against behavior that violates museum policy.
“We need to do better,” his letter stated. “We need to be more receptive to your concerns and act on them with far greater urgency.”
Cincotta did not return a phone message Friday. He has previously declined to comment about the allegations.
Leslie Anne Miller, chair of the board of trustees for the museum, also addressed the staff at a closed-door meeting Friday morning. Attendees said Miller apologized to those who “felt mistreated.”
The meeting was held by VallotKarp, a New York-based firm performing a “cultural assessment” of the museum. VallotKarp was hired last month following news reports about Joshua R. Helmer, a former assistant director who left the museum in 2018. Helmer was accused by women of making romantic advances while dangling possibilities for professional advancement. He kept his job for more than a year after colleagues reported concerns about his conduct to management, and has denied any misconduct.
In the wake of the report regarding Cincotta, Mayor Jim Kenney again called for the museum to revamp its personnel policies.
“The latest allegations about abuse at the Philadelphia Museum of Art are extremely troubling,” Kenney, who by virtue of his office sits on the museum’s board, said in a statement. "We hope that their ongoing assessment of workplace culture will be treated with the seriousness it deserves, and that museum leadership will make necessary changes to create a work environment that is safe, welcoming, and respectful of all its employees.”
Ajay Raju, an Art Museum trustee and member of the committee helping to guide the cultural assessment effort, said he supported Miller’s stated commitment to address workplace problems.
“We are on a journey of listening, of understanding what has happened,” said Raju, chairman and CEO of the Dilworth Paxson law firm. “I think the issues are serious, but we are committed to doing something serious about it.”
He applauded the bravery of staff members who have broken their silence about problems at the renowned museum.
“I see a deep abiding love for the institution, even from ones with grievances," he said. "You can tell they’re in pain, but they want the institution to be what it needs to be.”
Culture writer Peter Dobrin contributed to this article.