Hired by the city, a Norfolk lawyer has started an independent investigation into complaints of discrimination made by a City Council aide, Richmond City Attorney Allen L. Jackson says.
But Jennifer Walle, the woman at the center of the controversy, says she worries about the fairness of the investigation. “The City Council office, they're the ones who hire the city attorney,” she says. “And the city attorney is going to be the one who picks the investigator? Honestly, I don't have much faith in the process.”
Samuel J. Webster of the law firm Willcox & Savage, which has represented Style Weekly, began investigating the complaint last week, Jackson says.
Walle, public liaison for City Councilman Bruce Tyler, filed an intake questionnaire last month with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charging the city and Council President Kathy Graziano with discrimination.
Walle alleges that Graziano's aide David Hathcock made unwanted sexual advances toward her.
The Norfolk lawyer was brought in after questions arose about a possible conflict of interest. The city attorney's office is preparing to defend the city in a potential lawsuit that could arise from Walle's filing.
Reached by phone, Graziano referred questions to Jackson's office. Jackson could not be reached by press time.
Walle's lawyer, Hayden Fisher, says that his client soon will file a civil battery claim against Hathcock. He says Walle will seek $350,000 in punitive damages.