Officials in Philadelphia, national politics react to court’s not-guilty verdict on judge’s sexual harassment charges


Josephine Buttigieg, the executive director of the City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, said Tuesday night that she was “deeply concerned” after a jury found Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Curtis T. Sullivan not guilty of 18 counts of sexual harassment and related misconduct.

“Not only was Judge Sullivan known for making inappropriate comments about his private life, but a woman accused him of sexual harassment on four separate occasions,” she said in a statement. “In addition, she has an additional federal lawsuit pending against the city. A jury found him not guilty, and I believe it is important to remember the findings of this case. There was a hearing in front of the judge, which was held at the end of this trial. And the District Attorney’s office has decided to not pursue charges. In addition, most defendants do plead guilty, despite the accusations, if they recognize the injustice of their position. We take these matters very seriously, and make every effort to take appropriate action.”

Mr. Buttigieg’s remarks reflect a growing sentiment in the local political and civic worlds about the verdict, as well as the reaction from officials on the national scene.

Josh Penn, the deputy mayor of public affairs for the City of Philadelphia, reacted to the jury’s not-guilty verdict in a statement to a local news outlet.

“While I certainly believe he should be held accountable for his actions, I am disappointed by the judge’s decision,” Mr. Penn said. “While the legal system is too slow for any of us to feel justice has been served, I believe Judge Sullivan still has his integrity, his health, and his family and friends to focus on.”

Other officials tweeted out their reactions as well, the mayor of Philadelphia, Jim Kenney, later tweeting: “Overturned the #Rittenhouse trial verdict. Not a good look for us and will embarrass Philly.”

Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania’s spokesman, Matt Sparks, tweeted: “Glad we took the conviction of Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Curtis Sullivan seriously and even brought them to court.”

[email protected]_forte also didn’t help her husband by tweeting out ““What Difference Does It Make?” The same night she campaigned with candidate Bob Casey for reelection. He was 2nd on ballot. Her reply is not a surprise. — Matt Ferner (@mattferner01) March 8, 2021

[email protected]_forte said her husband had nothing to say to her when they were in D.C. for inauguration. Yet she chided him for being a “deadbeat father” when they were there — Matt Ferner (@mattferner01) March 8, 2021

[email protected]_forte did not say anything to her husband when they were in D.C. for inauguration. Yet she chided him for being a “deadbeat father” when they were there — Matt Ferner (@mattferner01) March 8, 2021

Senator Bob Casey did not directly address a tweet that Ms. Buttigieg had sent on February 25, seemingly suggesting that Mr. Buttigieg will run for Philadelphia mayor against the five-term incumbent, Jim Kenney.

@e_forte Talking about these allegations is very off topic, thank you. I would have wanted to talk about things about our city. — Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) February 25, 2015

Mr. Sullivan served as the first African-American judge of Philadelphia Municipal Court in 2015 and is an active member of the Boy Scouts of America, the City of Philadelphia and the Democratic party.

The Philadelphia Municipal Court employs about 1,400 people who hear approximately 700,000 misdemeanor, civil and small claims cases per year.

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