Mayor Andre Sayegh has been repeatedly giving shout-outs to a man multiple women have accused of sexual harassment.
Sayegh gave a shout-out to school board member Manny Martinez during his State of the City address on March 2.
Martinez was accused of sex harassment by a co-worker at the Community Charter School of Paterson in 2017. He was again accused of sexual harassment by a woman at the College Achieve Charter School in 2020.
Martinez denied the allegations in both cases. But the charter schools had to pay to settle the claims. Community Charter School of Paterson paid $90,000 and College Achieve Charter School paid $275,000 to settle the two sexual harassment cases.
“I acknowledged him because he’s an elected official,” said Sayegh when asked about the shout-out. “I don’t shout-out people.”
Sayegh seemed agitated and flustered at being asked about his Martinez shout-outs.
Sayegh mentioned both Martinez and school board member Emanuel Capers in the same sentence during his shout-out at the State of the City event.
“Emanuel Capers was next to him. He was acknowledged too. Are you going to say I acknowledged Emanuel Capers? Wasn’t he suspended?”
No one has accused Capers of sexual harassment.
“I don’t know why my name is being brought up. There’s no comparison. I didn’t settle. I never had any sexual harassment allegations and I never harassed anyone,” said Capers. “I don’t know why he’d bring me up.”
Capers was briefly suspended because of an ethics case that he is appealing. He pointed out an administrative law judge found he did not break any ethics rules
Sayegh gave another shout-out to Martinez during his campaign headquarters grand opening on March 12.
“Come on, give it up for Manny Martinez!” said Sayegh at the event. Several people began to chant “Manny! Manny!” to which Sayegh remarked, “We got the Manny chant going here.” He said Martinez has been a partner “in progress” while speaking of the renovation of the Hinchliffe Stadium.
It’s atypical for someone running for office to align themselves with a person accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.
Sayegh also had Martinez on his transition team. He appointed him to the arts, culture and tourism committee on his transition team on June 5, 2018. That was seven months after the first woman accused Martinez of sexual harassment.
It was widely reported in the local media on December 6, 2017 that Martinez allegedly made unwanted sexual advances and aggressive sexual comments at a substitute teacher at the Community Charter School of Paterson.
Sayegh would not say whether it was okay for him to appoint a man accused of sexual harassment to his transition team. These allegations have prevented Martinez from becoming president of the Board of Education in Paterson twice.
Both Sayegh (pictured, left) and Martinez (right) are registered Democrats. Both men have been longtime friends.
Martinez did not respond to a call for comment for this story.