Keith Fagundes, the Kings County District Attorney, is facing claims of sexual harassment lodged against him by one of his staff members.
Robert Waggle, the chief investigator at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, lodged an official claim on July 6 that included a laundry list of sexual harassment allegations.
Kings County has 45 days to respond to the claim.
Beginning and end of a friendship
Fagundes and Waggle knew each other from 2008 while working on homicides and crime cases – Fagundes for the Kings County DA’s office and Waggle for the Kings County Sheriff’s office.
In 2010, Waggle started working for the DA’s office and the two became close friends.
Waggle moved into an apartment next to his pool in November 2017 after losing his house in a divorce, according to Fagundes.
Fagundes claims that when Waggle asked him what the rent would cost, he responded by asking Waggle what he could afford. Waggle said he could not afford to pay any rent at all, Fagundes claims.
In Waggle’s filing, he claims that he moved into the apartment in 2018, and repeatedly offered to pay rent, but that Fagundes refused to take any money — saying that Waggle “just being here is enough for [him].”
Waggle’s claim outlines “some examples (of many) of Fagundes extended pattern and practice of improper and unlawful sexual harassment.”
He describes being repeatedly touched in a sexual manner, inappropriate text messages and sexually explicit conversations with Fagundes.
The alleged harassment led Waggle to suffer from severe anxiety, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to his filing.
The claim opens the possibility of a lawsuit that could demand over $1m in damages, with Waggle’s attorneys citing the fact that Waggle would receive a substantially discounted retirement “because he was forced to retire at a young age,” his PTSD, and the potential for legal bills that could reach $800,000.
According to the claim Waggle is “currently in the process of being medically retired.”
Waggle’s complaint is embedded below; reader discretion is advised due to the explicit and vulgar language of the alleged conversations and text messages.
Fagundes says he’s open to an investigation
“I have all my texts, too, and they depict a whole different reality that what Robert is describing,” Fagundes told the Valley Voice.
He said the texts Waggle describes as harassment were just “crude guy banter.”
Waggle initiated most of the texts or encouraged and affirmed them with his responses, Fagundes added.
“If his claims are true, why did he let it go on for so long and cause him so much emotional distress to the point of PTSD?,” Fagundes asked. “If I thought for a minute that I offended him I never would have sent him texts or would have stopped.”
Fagundes is being represented by Marguerite Melo of the Law offices of Melo and Sarsfield.
Melo says that the timing of the claim was clearly meant to coincide with Fagundes’ announcement that he would seek re-election in 2022. Fagundes ran for his position in 2014 and 2018 and won with over 70% of the vote both times.
The timing also coincides with the Kings County Board of Supervisors’ announcement of a $500,000 settlement with former County Counsel Lee Burdick.
According to Melo, the county will be left to decide whether it is cheaper to settle or fight a potential lawsuit from Waggle — Melo says he is likely hoping for a quick and substantial settlement similar to Burdick’s.
“His lawyers have put together this fiction in order to get money out of the county, which is taxpayer money,” said Melo.
One of the witnesses listed on the claim agreed to talk to the Voice on the condition of anonymity.
He said that he wasn’t sure why he was listed as a witness — and was shocked to hear about the case.
He struggles personally with the allegations because he likes both men, the witness said.
The named witness said he enjoyed his time at the KCDA office, that Waggle was a good friend, and that he excelled as a chief investigator, but also said that Fagundes was a “stand up guy,” and a “great boss.”
He said that he’d spent a lot of time with Fagundes, that he had a good marriage and was loyal to his wife.
“I never got the vibe that he was a gay predator,” the man said.
Melo says her client is an open book and has already agreed to fully cooperate if the county conducts an investigation.
“He is eager to clear his name and is committed to transparency,” she said.
“I’m a politician,” said Fagundes, “and I take shots all of the time. But this one is over the top.”