NYC Mayor Eric Adams backs adviser Tim Pearson amid sex harass accusations, citing ‘due process’

NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams defended senior adviser Tim Pearson in his first public remarks about the sexual harassment lawsuit against him, telling reporters Tuesday that his longtime ally deserves “due process.”

Last Thursday, retired NYPD sergeant Roxanna Ludemann alleged in a blockbuster lawsuit that Pearson touched her inappropriately at work and that, when she complained about it, she was retaliated against.

Aside from Pearson, Ludemann named NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey and Internal Affairs Inspector Joseph Profeta as defendants in the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.

“In this country, there’s something called due process,” Adams said when asked why Pearson hasn’t faced professional consequences over the lawsuit and other controversies. “Due process — that’s the cornerstone of our country.”

The mayor said Pearson is especially deserving in that regard because, as a former cop, he was “in the Trade Center when the buildings collapsed and saved a great deal of people.”

Adams wouldn’t directly answer, however, when asked whether he’s spoken to Pearson about the incident, or whether the allegations appear credible to him. In response, he said he’d been advised by city lawyers to “let the system do the job.”

Ludemann’s lawyer, John Scola, criticized Adams’ due process defense of Pearson, saying in a statement that such a claim only works “if the administration only found out about her complaints last week, which clearly they did not.”

“While this is being investigated the administration should err on the side of caution and remove him from a supervisory position to protect the women in the office,” Scola said in a statement.

Ludemann alleges in her lawsuit that in 2022 and 2023 Pearson not only caressed her arms and shoulders on up to 20 different occasions, but that he also asked her sexually suggestive questions, inquired about her marital status and — after she spurned his come-ons — blocked her promotion. At the time, she had been assigned to a special unit formed earlier in Adams’ administration that’s tasked with assessing the performance and efficiency of city agencies.

According to the lawsuit, her superior at the time, Deputy Chief Miltiadis Marmara, witnessed Pearson rubbing on Ludemann’s arm during a December 2022 work party. Marmara recommended she file a complaint in response to that incident and backed her when Pearson blocked her promotion a year later.

The lawsuit, first reported by the New York Daily News, isn’t the only hot water Pearson finds himself in these days.

After witnesses reported last October that he shoved a migrant shelter security guard to the ground, the city’s Department of Investigation opened a probe into the incident. A year earlier, the New York Times reported that Pearson, who collects a $124,000 NYPD pension, was also getting paid two salaries — one as an executive at the Resorts World casino in Queens and the other in his role serving Adams, which falls under the city’s Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit controlled by the mayor.

Adams declined to say Tuesday whether Pearson would be suspended. He also wouldn’t respond to questions about whether Pearson’s legal representation would be covered by the city.

In instances where city workers are sued, they’re entitled to legal representation under local rules that permit it if the alleged conduct “occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of his public employment.” But those rules also state the city’s Law Department has the ability to deny legal representation if the worker in question violated “any rule or regulation of his agency” when the alleged wrongdoing took place.

“We’re very much aware of what the general municipal law says. This is a new case with multiple individuals and different entities,” responded the city’s Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix. “We have to conduct representation interviews. Those interviews will be conducted and we will make a determination when they’re concluded.”

Those interviews would determine whether the city reps Pearson, and if so, who would assume that role.


(With Graham Rayman.)