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Eric Adams

Yes, His Top Aide Was Sued for Sexual Harassment, but Mayor Adams Raises a Good Point: 9/11

A mayor of NYC invoking the heroism of first responders on 9/11 to avoid answering substantive questions—what, is it 2007?

Mayor Eric Adams and senior administration officials hold an in-person media availability. City Hall. Tuesday, March 26, 2024. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Mayor Eric Adams and senior administration officials hold an in-person media availability. City Hall. Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Last week, Timothy Pearson, a top aide to Mayor Eric Adams, was sued by a former NYPD sergeant, who claimed that in 2022 and 2023, Pearson sexually harassed her on the job and retaliated against her after she spoke up about the abuse. 

On Tuesday, Mayor Adams held the first off-topic press conference since the lawsuit was filed, and reporters had questions: What did Adams think of the allegations? Would Pearson be suspended from his job as senior advisor for public safety, like other mayoral aides who are currently under investigation for misconduct? 

"About Tim Pearson, I'm wondering what it is about him that he can quietly be earning two salaries and a pension, get into a brawl at a migrant shelter, spark a sexual harassment suit, and not suffer any professional consequences?" New York Times reporter Dana Rubinstein asked the mayor, invoking Pearson's track record of questionable conduct since he began working for his old friend Eric Adams in 2022.

In response, Adams borrowed a tactic from one of his Republican predecessors, and sidestepped the questions by invoking Pearson's service during 9/11. A mayor of New York City invoking the heroism of first responders on September 11, 2001 to avoid answering substantive questions—what, is it 2007?

"I'm just gonna say this about the Tim Pearson issue that you said. In this country there's something called due process. And our due process does not change. It's due process. That's the cornerstone of our country," Adams said. "That is what Tim Pearson did for a great deal of time: Ensure people had due process. And as a person who was in the [World] Trade Center when the buildings collapsed and saved a great deal of people in guiding them out and protecting this city for the time he has, I think he is due, due process."

Later in the press conference, Michael Gartland of the Daily News followed up: "Have you spoken to him about the allegations in the lawsuit? Do you believe what was alleged?...Will he be suspended? Will he be represented by a City lawyer in that?"

Adams ignored Gartland's questions, until another reporter, Greg Smith of the CITY, followed up again on whether the City will be representing Pearson in the case.

"This is a new case with multiple individuals and multiple entities," replied Sylvia Hinds-Radix, the head of the City's Law Department, who added that they are still conducting interviews with all the defendants named in the suit—which includes Pearson's official agency, the quasi-private Economic Development Corporation, and NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey—to determine whether they'll be representing them.

This isn't the first time Adams has used Pearson's role as an NYPD officer who helped people escape the Twin Towers to deflect questions about him. In the summer of 2022, after it was revealed that Pearson was being paid by Resorts World Casino, in addition to his City salary, in addition to his police pension, Adams said the magic words.

"He’s a 9/11 hero," Adams told reporters. "When the [World Trade Center] buildings collapsed, he was inside one of the buildings and led people to safety."

Adams added, "We need to lift up our 9/11 heroes."

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