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City exec to resign 6 weeks after woman's sexual harassment claim sustained

Mayor says this behavior is not tolerated

HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday he does not tolerate sexual harassment in his administration.

The response comes after a former city contractor, Shadawn McCants, opened up to KPRC 2 Investigates during an emotional interview where she said she had nothing to gain in telling her story.

McCants said she was the victim of sexual harassment by Noel Pinnock. Pinnock is bureau chief of the Houston Health Department Bureau of Youth and Adolescent Health, as well as director of My Brother's Keeper Houston. Pinnock’s work has also been honored at City Hall by Turner.

"I know what it feels like to be afraid, to be in a situation, and you feel like you have no recourse, you have no power," McCants said.

According to the Office of Inspector General, Pinnock violated several city policies regarding sexually oriented materials. Inspectors also sustained McCants' complaint of harassment.  

While the mayor said nobody tolerates sexual harassment within the city, Pinnock is being allowed to resign this Friday, approximately six weeks after the OIG findings. 

When asked if he believes a person should be allowed to resign, Turner said: “I will simply say to you, based on the information I received I have now reviewed the person's file. The person has tendered his resignation and the person has not been actively working in the city of Houston in the last month or so.” 

“But if you don't tolerate it, should a person be allowed to resign?" KPRC 2 Investigates asked.

“I think you make an assessment based on the particular details of that file,” Turner said.  

Pinnock has been on medical leave since September. Employment attorney Joe Ahmed said that shouldn't stop the city from firing him.

"There is no reason medical leave, for example, should prevent somebody from being terminated if they engaged in misconduct," Ahmed said.

McCants made it clear in the KPRC 2 Investigates report Sunday night there has been no compassion expressed by the city.

"Not one person has said to me, 'I am sorry that this has happened to you,'" McCants said.

KPRC 2 Investigates asked Turner on Tuesday if he had anything to say to the victim.

“I don't even know the person, I'm sorry," Turner replied. 

At the end of his weekly news conference, Turner was asked by KPRC 2 Investigates about the overall message being sent to women working within the city of Houston.

“Happy Thanksgiving, Mario,” Turner replied.