Two more woman have complained that they were sexually harassed by the Philadelphia Housing Authority's executive director, Carl R. Greene, the agency's board chairman said yesterday.
The women do not intend to file formal complaints against Greene, but approached the board on their own in an attempt to put the incidents behind them, said John F. Street, the board chair and former mayor.
"They are sick of it, they have been afraid, and they have been frightened to death about all this, and now they see some light at the end of the tunnel," Street said.
"Their motivation is not to file a complaint" in the hope of receiving a cash settlement, he said.
The new, informal complaints are in addition to four sexual harassment complaints filed against Greene since 2004 with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Their disclosure resulted in Greene's being suspended from his job by the board last week.
Greene will remain at a medical treatment facility for some weeks, said his attorney, Clifford E. Haines, who expressed astonishment at Street's comments.
"John Street tells a newspaper reporter that he has some unknown person making some unidentified complaint about someone who has been in the press for weeks? I don't know where to go with that," said Haines. "Mr. Street and I are quickly becoming adversaries, unfortunately."
Street said one woman is a current PHA employee and the other a former employee.
"We didn't ask anyone" to report incidents involving Greene, he said. "These folks came forward" after receiving assurances their identities would not be disclosed.
Street also said, "We have not been able to come up with a record of sexual harassment against any other employees" of PHA.
Three of the four earlier complaints have been settled with cash payments by PHA's insurance carrier, and a fourth is under negotiation. The total cost could exceed $900,000.
Greene was suspended because the board never knew of the complaints and because the first three payments, for $648,000, were never disclosed to it. A settlement for $250,000 had been tentatively agreed to last month in a complaint filed by Elizabeth Helm, a 29-year-old interior designer, although Helm's lawyer now says he has seen no settlement papers and will not settle for less than $375,000.
The PHA internal investigation into how the complaints and settlements were handled will determine Greene's future. The board is set to meet again on Thursday, with completion of that review scheduled for the end of this month.
But Haines said Street's comment and other actions by the board "suggest a decision already has been made."
"They called me last Friday and said they had all Carl's personal belongings boxed up and wanted to know what should be done with them," he said.
Street said he offered to send Greene any personal items, but did not order his office cleaned out.
Haines also suggested that board members should have known if Greene was behaving inappropriately.
"Who was overseeing him for the last 14 years? Who knew about what Carl was doing, or not doing, and turned their back on it?" Haines said.
He added that to terminate Greene's contract, PHA has to "prove he has violated the terms of his contract. Just because someone said he did or he didn't do something doesn't make it so."
The PHA internal probe extends beyond the details of the complaints to include how they were handled by PHA managers and various attorneys.
Street has said one complaint, from 2004, was settled for $200,000 with two checks. One from the insurer was for $101,000, and one from PHA for $99,000, apparently an effort to stay below the $100,000 expenditure ceiling that would have required a board vote.
Street said he should know by next week how the details of the settlements were handled inside PHA, including how the agency handled the $350,000 settlement of a 2008 case.
Haines said that Greene did not sign the settlement agreements in the three cases between 2004 and 2008, but that he could not say who did.
Negotiations with the four complainants were handled by outside counsel hired for those cases, and Street said their conduct may come under scrutiny.
"Why wouldn't somebody at some time have notified the board?" he asked.
Greene, as the person facing the accusation, could not have been the person who authorized a settlement, Street said.
Five outside attorneys have been involved in the various cases, and most have not responded to repeated requests for comment. The law firm of Cozen O'Connor worked on two settlements, according to its CEO and President Thomas "Tad" Decker.
Late Thursday night, Decker said his firm had been fired by PHA after attorneys insisted that board members be informed of a second sexual harassment suit that Cozen handled, the third case of four against Greene.
"It's very clear in the cases in which we were involved that we anticipated that the board was going to be informed by management of the terms of the settlements and the background," Decker said. "We recommended that the board be fully informed of all the issues on the case. Thereafter, our engagement was terminated."