By Jack Crowe, DCNF
A top congressional ethics official charged with investigating misconduct by lawmakers is being sued in federal court for physically abusing and sexually harassing a group of women during a drunken altercation at a bar in 2014 before threatening to use his position to retaliate against his accusers.
Omar Ashmawy, staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, is heavily involved in determining which allegations brought against lawmakers warrant an ethics committee probe.
Ashmawy, who signed off on the ethics investigation into Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan among others, was assaulted by three men after repeatedly sexually harassing women in a Milford, Pa. bar on Valentines Day in 2015.
One of the men, Greg Martucci, is suing Ashmawy in federal court for, among other things, “threatening to use his position as staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics to induce a criminal proceeding to be brought against Plaintiff and/or others,” according to court filings obtained by Foreign Policy.
The top ethics official, who has been at the center of the multiple recent high profile investigations into sexual misconduct against lawmakers, claims the assault was completely unprovoked, citing the eventual conviction of the three men involved in the altercation.
“To be clear, I did not harass anyone that evening, physically or verbally,” he wrote in a statement to FP. “To the contrary, I was the victim of a wholly unprovoked assault for which those responsible were investigated, arrested and charged. Any allegation to the contrary is unequivocally false.”
Martucci, a former federal air marshall later fired for his role in the dispute, describes witnessing “an extremely violent and belligerent” Ashmawy verbally abusing bartender Joey Lynn Smith and Dawn Jorgenson – the wife of John Jorgensen, who owns the bar where the incident occurred. Martucci also claims he witnessed Ashmawy physically abusing Dawn Jorgensen and a third woman, Christina Floyd.
Dawn Jorgensen corroborated much of what Martucci alleges in his suit in a written statement provided to police. She claims she saw Martucci “clearly sexually harassing” Smith during successive trips to the bar to order drinks.
“You’ll give me drinks, but you won’t fuck me,” Ashmawy said to Smith before physically blocking her escape and grabbing her, according to Dawn Jorgensen’s statement. At that point, Dawn Jorgensen said she tried to intervene, at which point Ashmawy allegedly grabbed her wrist and fell on top of her.
Floyd confirmed much of what Dawn Jorgensen alleged in her own statement to the police.
“I watched each time Omar would come down and verbally sexually harass the bartender as he ordered drinks,” Floyd wrote in her statement, describing Ashmawy.
Following the physical altercation John Jorgensen dragged Ashmawy outside where he was joined by Martucci, and a third man, Tim Reilly. All three men faced charges related to the assault, which resulted in a “bruised and bloodied eye,” according to Ashmawy’s statement. The charges against Martucci were eventually dropped and expunged and the other two men pled guilty to misdemeanors.
Martucci filed the suit in September and Ashmawy countered with a motion to dismiss filed on Dec. 6.
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