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City Attorney Tearman Spencer accused of inappropriately touching lawyer: discrimination complaint

Posted at 6:42 AM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 07:42:50-04

MILWAUKEE — A former assistant city attorney is accusing Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer of inappropriately touching her, according to a discrimination complaint.

The discrimination complaint, obtained by TMJ4 News, was filed Jan. 31 by Naomi Gehling. Gehling, who is now the chief of staff at the Fire and Police Commission, was hired as an assistant city attorney in August of 2015.

According to the complaint, once Spencer took office in April of 2021, Gehling said "it quickly became clear that female attorneys would not be given equal respect or opportunity under his leadership."

The complaint alleges that during a meeting in July of 2020, Spencer inappropriately touched Gehling in a way that made her uncomfortable. The complaint says after Gehling immediately reported the incident, she was "ostracized and mistreated" by Spencer.

"My input on various work was ignore by him and he otherwise created a toxic and uncomfortable environment for me," the complaint states. "It was common knowledge that he wanted to fire me, but instead was going to transfer me to an undesirable assignment, away from the work I had been doing since I started with the respondent."

Gehling said in the complaint that the threat and reality of her transfer gave her no other alternative than to resign and seek other employment, which she did in April of 2021.

The complaint continues to state that following Gehling's resignation, Spencer's "retaliation" continued.

"On or around October 1, 2021, I learned that he had instructed a newly hired Assistant City Attorney to write a memo to denigrate my work and document my alleged failing at City Attorney's Office," the complaint says.

That attorney, Christian Thomas, resigned quickly after being hired, after allegedly being asked to write the memo documenting the failings of Gehling.

As of October of 2021, Spencer had seen over 20 employees leave the City Attorney's Office since he took over.

Spencer has denied doing anything wrong.

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