NYS official facing sexually-based harassment charges

James Ferro (NYS Attorney General's Office)

ALBANY, N.Y. – A high level corrections official for New York State was arrested on accusations he forcibly touched and harassed a subordinate employee.

James Ferro, the former Director of Operations with the Department of Corrections, is accused of sexually touching and intimidating employees. An investigation by Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott began in March, and Ferro was placed on administrative leave in April. He retired a few weeks ago.

“The arrest today sends a clear message that every New Yorker is entitled to safety and respect in the workplace,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “And we will not tolerate those that abuse positions of authority.”

Schneiderman said Ferro worked at Building 2 on the New York State Police Harriman Campus in Albany.

“His responsibility was to oversee investigations of misconduct,” Scott said.

Leahy said Ferro repeatedly harassed an employee for years. She said he would forcibly and sexually touch at least one employee whom he oversaw.

“He allegedly used his power and authority to commit outrageous offenses against his own employees,” she said.

Officials said the purpose behind Ferro’s conduct was to degrade and abuse the employees to gratify his own sexual desires.

“No place in New York for sexual harassment,” Schneiderman said.

Scott said Ferro’s employees felt powerless against his abuses because he was in charge of a special investigations unit. The Inspector General said Ferro would alter employees’ schedules and deny overtime if they spoke out against him.

“The alleged behavior by the defendant is deplorable and will not be tolerated,” Scott said.

Schneiderman said he hopes Ferro’s arrest will create a better work environment.

“Based on respect and based on them feeling safe,” he said.

Scott said her investigation showed abuse went back six years. Her investigation is ongoing and more charges may be issued.

“Holding accountable those who either were aware or condoned such criminal acts or were complacent in them,” she said.

Ferro appeared in Albany City Court on Monday. He has been charged with Forcible Touching, Coercion, Official Misconduct and Harassment.

Ferro is scheduled to reappear in court on January 26.

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