Following repeated calls for their resignations, three top city prosecutors entangled in the pornographic email scandal have been reassigned to lower-profile positions in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office.

On Monday, District Attorney Seth Williams moved Frank Fina, E. Marc Costanzo, and Patrick Blessington to jobs that will strip them of their ability to prosecute new criminal cases.

Fina, a top public corruption prosecutor, was reassigned to the civil litigation division. Costanzo was transferred from the special investigations unit to the appeals unit. And Blessington was moved from the insurance fraud unit to the appellate division.

Their salaries, at least for the moment, will remain unchanged, city officials said.

The transfers, which take effect Monday, came amid growing calls for Williams to fire the three prosecutors over offensive emails they sent or received in their previous jobs as state prosecutors. The emails, which became public last summer, contained pornography or other troubling content.

In recent weeks, Philadelphia elected officials and the city chapter of the National Organization for Women have denounced the men for swapping the messages, and questioned Williams' decision to send them to sensitivity training rather than firing them.

On Thursday, City Council joined the call for their ouster by passing a resolution urging Williams to remove them.

Kathleen Martin, Williams' newly hired chief of staff and general counsel, said the decision to reassign the men had nothing to do with the mounting public pressure.

She said the transfer was made because it was "the right thing to do to move forward and . . . give the citizens of Philadelphia faith in the office and the way it is run."

Asked why the three were not fired, Martin said Williams believes they are hardworking and talented lawyers, and "we stand by our belief that they are not misogynist or racist."

She noted that the emails in question were sent or received by the men before they joined Williams' staff.

Fina, Costanzo, and Blessington could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The pornographic email scandal has cost at least a half-dozen people their jobs, including a state Supreme Court justice and a high-ranking member of the administration of former Gov. Tom Corbett.

The messages were discovered last year by Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane, who was reviewing how her office had handled the investigation of serial child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky. Fina was the lead prosecutor in that case.

Since then, Kane has only released a sampling of the messages, even though for months she has promised to make all of them public. Critics say Kane has selectively released emails to embarrass people she dislikes or blames for her own legal and political troubles.

Kane and Fina have been locked in a nasty public feud for more than two years, most notably over how several of the office's criminal cases were handled.

Kane, a Democrat, has said she believes Fina and a group of angry Republican men are behind the criminal charges she now faces for illegally leaking confidential information to a newspaper about an old investigation Fina had handled. Prosecutors say she did so in an attempt to embarrass him.

Kane has pleaded not guilty to perjury, conspiracy, and other crimes.

This week, Kane appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the email scandal, though she continues to resist requests for the public release of all the messages.

Though Kane made some of Blessington's emails public more than a year ago, she released a sampling of emails sent or received by Fina or Costanzo only this summer.

Among them were photos of women's genitalia, as well as so-called motivational posters. One showed a women performing a sex act on her boss, another depicted a white man clutching a bucket of fried chicken while running from two black men.

They also included an email Costanzo received with the subject line "Hot Ghetto Mess" that contained crude and offensive images, including a photo of an African American baby holding a rifle.

When the content of the email was initially made public, Williams said the three prosecutors would be ordered to attend sensitivity training.

But that training, too, became controversial - it did not take place until late last month, and only after repeated media inquiries and growing concern among public officials.

The City Council resolution, introduced by Cindy Bass, Jannie L. Blackwell, Marian B. Tasco, and Maria Quiñones Sánchez, described the emails' content as "demeaning, misogynistic, racist, and homophobic."

It also said, "The emails which these men forwarded reportedly include women in compromising sexual situations with captions indicating advancing in the workplace requires such acts, depiction of African American babies as violent from infancy, and stereotyping and ridiculing of gay men."

The measure passed by a voice vote, meaning that each member's vote was not officially tallied. But many Council members who in recent weeks had become strong critics of Williams enthusiastically called out "Aye" when the resolution came to a vote.

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@TriciaNadolny