Claim filed against Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk over alleged sexual harassment, abuse of power

Local News

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (WETM) – A notice of claim has been filed by former Watkins Glen Sergeant in Charge Brandon Matthews and his family against Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk for alleged sexual harassment and abuse of power.

According to the notice of claim, in November 2019 Leszyk allegedly made sexual advances towards Matthews’ wife Danielle while she was a bartender at Bleachers Sports Bar and Grill in Watkin Glen and threatened her husband’s job if she did not comply.

The notice alleges that Leszyk approached Danielle Matthews and said, in substance, “if you want your husband to keep his job, you will do sexual favors for me.” After his request was “emphatically” denied Leszyk allegedly said, “I guess you don’t want your husband to have a job.”

Leszyk allegedly made similar comments in February 2020 at Bleachers when he told Matthews’ daughter “you are as pretty as your mother” and told Danielle “you had better stop treating me like this; I am the mayor.”

Bob Decker, the owner of Bleachers, says he encouraged all of his staff to let him know if there were issues with customers. While Decker says he was not made aware of specific allegations against Leszyk while at the bar, he described Leszyk as a “regular” who he has never seen “heavily drunk” at the bar.

After the two incidents, the Matthews say they were retaliated against when their home was raided by New York State Police on July 29, 2020, with more than 20 officers, a K-9, and a helicopter.

The family says their three children “have suffered from increased anxiety and insomnia” as a result of the raid after their daughter’s toybox was “ripped through” and their intellectually disabled son was forced to “undress and removed his soiled adult diapers” in front of police.

Matthews was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11 but was not indicted by a grand jury in connection to the search. The Village and police have been unable to comment on the nature of the search.

Matthews was removed from his position almost a month after the grand jury decided not to indict him.

“As a result of the foregoing, the Village and Mayor Leszyk have misused, used and attempted to use the criminal justice system to accomplish the improper collateral object of punishing Danielle and Sgt. Matthews for Danielle’s rebuffing the Mayor’s sexual advances and threat and to further the Village and Mayor Leszyk’s goal of dissolving the Police Department, and otherwise have abused process.”

The Matthews are seeking punitive damages to “fully compensate for all damages.”

The Matthews were originally represented by Attorney Ray Schlather, but on Monday night changed their representation to Attorney Matthew Buzzetti.

The full notice of claim filed by Schlather can be read below.

On Monday Mayor Leszyk referred 18 News to his attorney Daniel S. L. Rubin, Esq. of Girvin & Ferlazzo, P.C., who declind to comment on the matter.

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