$15K fine for former NY official in sexual misconduct probe

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A fired state employee who spent decades as a government watchdog has agreed to pay a $15,000 fine in a settlement agreement over claims of sexual misconduct, the New York state Joint Commission on Public Ethics said Wednesday.

Robert Freeman was fired as executive director of the Committee on Open Government last year, after a journalist said he harassed her and touched her inappropriately.

The state's inspector general investigated, and found photos of naked women on Freeman’s state computer and also concluded that state officials were aware of prior incidents with Freeman and inappropriate conduct toward women.

The inspector general's office referred the matter to the public ethics commission. As part of the settlement with the commission, Freeman admitted he engaged in acts that were an abuse of his government position.

A message seeking comment was left at a phone number listed under Freeman's name.