The city has paid $98,000 to a woman who accused former Community Board 1 District Manager George Delis of sexual harassment, but Delis still says she had no case.
Marcela Gutierrez, who worked as a receptionist at the Astoria-based board, brought suit against it last year, alleging Delis bragged to her about his sexual exploits. Gutierrez claimed Delis invited her to watch pornographic films with him on more than one occasion, and referred to her as “hooker” and a “conniving bitch.” According to Gutierrez, Delis also said he was only attracted to girls under 14 years of age.
Delis said the allegations leveled against him were all lies. “She had missed 47 work days,” he said, “I had to let her go.”
The suit alleges Gutierrez’s health began to decline due to Delis’ sexual harassment. Court documents filed by Gutierrez indicate that she reported the alleged harassment to Vinicio Donato, who was the chairman of the community board at the time. “He did not feel he was able to get Queens Community Board 1 to discipline Mr. Delis and that was one of the reasons he did nothing to prevent Mr. Delis from harassing [her],” the suit alleges.
Donato testified under oath that Gutierrez had come to him on many occasions and complained about Delis’ abusive language, according to the suit. Gutierrez alleges that Donato even told her to quit as a result of the harassment.
Delis is the first to admit he is outspoken. “I would hope that the fish are eating what’s left of her,” he said regarding Gutierrez. Still, he insists he did not sexually harass her. “I was dead against her getting any settlement. All of her charges were full of s***,” he said. “I have never had a problem ever in the 38 years I have been in goverment.”
Delis believes the city chose to settle because it was cheaper than paying to mount a defense. He said it costs around $20,000 per day to have a case heard in federal court.
“If the law was changed so that people who lose these cases have to pay the legal fees, you would see these cases reduced,” Delis said.
As for how the suit has affected his career, Delis said he’s still around. “It hasn’t affected my career. I’m as pretty as ever,” he added.
Vinicio Donato and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who were also named as in the suit as defendants, were not available for comment.