Top official at Chicago anti-violence group accused of workplace sexual harassment
* On April 22, 2019, attorneys for Ricardo “Cobe” Williams revealed that an investigation by the Office for Access and Equity (OAE) at the University of Illinois at Chicago had concluded that Williams should be exonerated of any wrongdoing. A copy of the OAE investigation obtained by Fox 32 News shows that investigators concluded that Williams was false accused by women who were seeking money or job opportunities. Read the full report here.
New information has surfaced on shocking sexual harassment accusations against a top official at a Chicago anti-violence organization.
Female employees have slapped the man with a lawsuit, detailing the troubling claims against him.
“Cobe Williams sexually assaulted me in the workplace on several occasions,” said Angalia Bianca.
Bianca is a database coordinator for Cure Violence, previously known at CeaseFire, an anti-violence program at the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Public Health. Bianca says that four years ago, a Cure Violence deputy director, Cobe Williams, repeatedly tried to force her to have oral sex with him.
“After I refused to participate, he retaliated by harassing me and making my job more difficult,” Bianca said.
Lakisha McGowan, an outreach worker, described another encounter with Williams in his van last June.
“He was literally in my seat, on top of me, and had shoved his tongue down my throat,” McGowan said.
The women say they've complained about the continued harassment, but nothing's been done. On Wednesday, Bianca filed a federal lawsuit against Williams, the program's director -- Doctor Gary Slutkin -- and the University of Illinois.
Ameena Matthews, a former employee, says the program's culture resembles a gentlemen's club.
“I thought CeaseFire meant what they said, when they said they were violent preventers,” Matthews said.
The allegations in the lawsuit have prompted one legislator who had been a strong supporter of Cure Violence to question her support going forward.
“They need to get it together, they need to repair the harm they have done,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy.
We weren't able to reach Cobe Williams and Doctor Slutkin referred us to a UIC spokesperson who told us that they take all allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously, and one complaint involving Cure Violence is under investigation.
The Chicago Tribune citing an attorney statement reports Williams denies all of the accusations.