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Top Aide to Mayor Adams Accused of Sexually Harassing NYPD Sergeant and Retaliating Against Her for Reporting It

The lawsuit against Timothy Pearson is the third instance of a member of the mayor's inner circle being accused of sexual misconduct against a lower-ranking NYPD officer.

A photo of Timothy Pearson standing behind Eric Adams at City Hall.

Timothy Pearson stands behind Mayor Eric Adams at City Hall on July 31, 2023 (Shutterstock)

Timothy Pearson, a powerful mayoral aide and longtime friend of Mayor Eric Adams has been accused of sexually harassing a subordinate and retaliating against her for rebuffing and reporting his advances, and the NYPD's highest-ranking uniformed officer allegedly gave Pearson cover for his behavior.

In a lawsuit filed on Thursday, former NYPD Sergeant Roxanne Ludemann claims that during the period of time that she and Pearson worked together in the same office, Pearson asked her "sexually driven questions," touched her inappropriately, and retaliated against her when she refused to act as his driver, ultimately forcing her out of the NYPD altogether.

When Ludemann and her direct supervisor tried to put an end to Pearson's behavior, the lawsuit states, Pearson and NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey transferred her multiple times, demoted her, and then initiated departmental charges against her, she claims, for complaining about Pearson's conduct.

"I want what happened to come to light—that it started with me saying 'no' and doing the right thing, and the NYPD allowed this man to destroy my career and traumatize me," Ludemann told the Daily News, which broke the story of the lawsuit. Ludemann's attorney has not responded to an email asking for an interview. 

This is the third time a high-ranking member of the Adams administration has been sued for workplace sexual misconduct by women who worked for the NYPD: Maddrey was sued in 2016 in federal and state court by his subordinate at the NYPD, who alleged Maddrey sexually harassed, assaulted, and abused her (the federal lawsuit was dismissed but the state lawsuit is ongoing); and Mayor Adams himself was recently sued by a former transit cop who claimed in the lawsuit that in 1993, he demanded oral sex in exchange for helping her with her career, which Adams has vehemently denied.

Adams's relationship with Pearson, whose title in the Adams administration is senior advisor for public safety, stretches back to his days as a transit cop, when Pearson was reportedly his superior. When Adams traveled to Turkey as Brooklyn Borough President in 2015 on a trip paid for by the Turkish government, Pearson tagged along, in an unusual arrangement "to assist in identifying & addressing security matters regarding tourism & ways to promote & maintain safety," according to documents obtained by the CITY. In 2022, Pearson, a former NYPD inspector, was called out for working a second job for Resorts World Casino while at his City post, at the same time that he was drawing a pension from the NYPD. Pearson quit the casino gig soon after the New York Times reported on it. A year later in October of 2023, the CITY reported that he had attacked a guard at a City-run migrant shelter, grabbing her and then throwing her into a table, according to an eyewitness. Pearson, who draws a $242,600 annual salary for his nebulous position at the City's Economic Development Corporation in addition to his $124,000 NYPD pension, is currently the subject of a probe by the Department of Investigation around his behavior at the shelters.

"I’ve known Tim Pearson for over 30-something years and I’ve never witnessed him displaying violent action," Adams said when asked about the shelter incidents. "He's a professional and the review will determine if we have to do something different in how the procedure is done."

When asked to respond to Ludemann's claims, the NYPD gave Hell Gate a generic statement about not tolerating workplace harassment or commenting on pending litigation. The Economic Development Corporation referred us to the Mayor's Office, which has not responded to our questions. A City Hall spokesperson basically told the Daily News that Ludemann's claims couldn't be corroborated. "We will review any lawsuit if and when it is filed, but the allegations were referred to City Hall’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity which conducted outreach on multiple occasions to the individual making these claims," the statement reads. "The individual chose not to cooperate in any investigation and, thus, none of her claims could be substantiated." 

Ludemann's complaint states that the harassment began during the summer of 2022, when she worked as the chief of staff to NYPD Chief Miltiadis Marmara, who had been handpicked by City Hall to run the brand-new Office of Municipal Services Assessment, which reported to Deputy Mayor Philip Banks III, as well as the mayor. They shared a downtown office with Pearson, who Ludemann said soon began making inappropriate sexual comments to her and other women and "would touch the women’s backs or arms when they were talking in a creepy and what felt to [Ludemann] as in a sexual way."

After news of Pearson's casino side gig broke, he was transferred to oversee the Office of Municipal Services Assessment, and according to Ludemann, "the repeated comments, sexual gestures and touching worsened."

"Defendant Pearson would regularly lick his lips when he is talking and open his legs when speaking to women in an overtly sexual way," the lawsuit states. 

When Marmara, Ludemann's direct supervisor, tried to get her promoted, Ludemann alleges that Pearson blocked the promotion and instead began insisting that she become his driver. As the complaint states, "Making a woman officer a driver for a supervisor is a common way women are sexually harassed in the NYPD."

During an office party in December of 2022, Marmara allegedly witnessed Pearson's harassment firsthand, and told Ludemann that he was going to report it; according to the complaint, Ludemann later talked him out of it, telling him it would be "career suicide." 

At one point, the complaint states, almost everyone under Pearson threatened to resign, and Pearson allegedly asked if they knew "what happens to martyrs." 

In the spring of 2023, Marmara allegedly had a meeting in which he angrily confronted Pearson, who then tried to fire Marmara. Pearson then allegedly yelled out: "get…Maddrey on the phone immediately." Maddrey, according to the suit, told Marmara he'd "take care of it," and both Marmara and Ludemann were eventually transferred back to the NYPD and bounced around from command to command. An email documenting Pearson's behavior that Ludemann sent to Marjorie Landa, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Risk Management and Compliance, allegedly resulted in a phone call, and not much else.  

According to Ludemann, Pearson and Maddrey were behind those transfers and demotions, retaliation that she says culminated in an internal investigation where her phone was seized; Ludemann eventually felt forced to submit her retirement papers in December of 2023, and formally retired in January of this year. 

"Plaintiff did not want to retire and would have worked as long as she could have if she was not forced to retire as a result of the sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation," the lawsuit states.

[Update / 5:03 p.m.] In an email, a spokesperson for City Hall wrote, "We will review the lawsuit and respond in court."

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