Former CEO of Bronx Parent Housing Network at center of sexual misconduct investigation
The former CEO of the Bronx Parent Housing Network is being investigated following accusations of sexual misconduct, intimidation and abuse of power.
This comes after several women came forward claiming they were sexually harassed and abused by Victor Rivera.
Rivera is accused of using his power as chief executive officer of the shelter agency to exploit, abuse and sexually harass homeless women and female employees.
The allegations were revealed in a New York Times investigation. The investigation found that for years, Rivera engaged in financial and sexual abuse as the head of one of the largest shelter providers in the city.
Social worker Shauntee Byron is one of close to a dozen women who stood in solidarity in the city investigation.
“I admire their bravery and courage for coming on speaking out against a predator,” said Byron.
Byron says she recalls one incident with Rivera. She says it was at Promise Place, one of the shelters run by BPHN.
“There was a comment that he made saying, ‘You looking good in that dress’.. ‘You looking sexy’, ‘You're hugging that dress.’ I didn't acknowledge it or pay attention because it seemed like something that he normally did,” said Byron.
Byron, who was the former site director at Promise Place, currently has an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against Bronx Parent Housing Network for wrongful termination and defamation. She says she was fired back in August of last year for speaking out about ongoing sexual harassment and poor working conditions.
“It's finally coming out, everything, and I hope they really investigate and look at everybody to the top,” said Byron.
Rivera has been fired.
The Board of Directors and new president released a statement on Bronx Parent Housing Network's website, saying in part, "Mr. Martinez and the board condemn, unequivocally, this abhorrent and abusive conduct, and BPHN is committed to conducting a complete and thorough inquiry and will fully cooperate with the proper authorities investigating these allegations to ensure that BPHN can continue to provide safe shelter for all.”
The de Blasio Administration directed Bronx Parent Housing Network to hire an independent investigator to look into the sexual harassment complaints and misconduct claims against Rivera.
The city is also seeking a private auditing firm to review nonprofit shelter providers to ensure compliance.
Rivera has reportedly denied the allegations.