Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, a legislator from Monroe County, New York, reportedly sexted a 19-year-old girl. He allegedly sent her a graphic picture of his genitals.
The news surfaced the same day Flagler-Mitchell was sworn in as president of the New York chapter of the NAACP.
He has since claimed that he thought he was sending the photo to his wife.
The 19-year-old, LaKaya Sinclair, wrote a letter to the Monroe County board of legislators calling for Flagler-Mitchell’s resignation over the incident.
A portion of her letter says, “I am writing this letter to share with you that your colleague County Legislature for Legislative district 29, Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, has explicitly sexually harassed me and has sent me an unsolicited photo of his genital [sic].”
Sinclair says that she first met Flagler-Mitchell after a shooting that took place in 2020.
“A few days later, there was a community gathering and he introduced himself to me as the official county legislature [sic] for my district,” her letter says. “He gave his county legislature business card and told me if I ever needed anything to give him a call. … I reached out for help, not to be sexually harassed.”
Sinclair did not specify why she reached out to him.
“I am writing this so that you are all aware of the type of person he is,” she said. “I am going public and will be asking for his resignation. No one should be in a position where they turned to their elected official for help and are met with unwanted sexual advances and inappropriate messages. I am only 19 years old.”
“I believe there are other women who are victims of him and I will be pleading with the community to not only support me, but to come forth if this has been their experience with this particular legislature [sic],” Sinclair said in her letter. “I am asking for his resignation so that he does not continue to use his seat and abuse his power and am asking this body to formerly [sic] investigate this matter. The fact that he did this to me so swiftly lets me know that he has done this before and as I stated, it is my hope that other women in this community find their voice and come forward to share their stories.”
Flagler-Mitchell denies sexually harassing the girl. He said he thought he was sending the explicit photo to his wife.
Although the girl received an unwanted and unfortunate photo, Flagler-Mitchell is claiming he is the victim in the situation. He says he is a victim of extortion.
“As a man of faith I believe we must all take responsibility for our actions and I have always tried to do that both in my personal and professional life,” he said in a statement. “In November, I sent a picture intended for my wife to an individual I was working with. I took immediate responsibility for my mistake. I deleted the file, acknowledged the mistake, apologized, and hoped I had not offended them. They responded at the time by accepting my apology and assured me that they were not offended.”
He continued, “Additionally, I immediately took responsibility for what occurred with my wife, by telling her what had happened and I regret that she is now embarrassed by my error.”
He also said that since the incident, people he did not name— who he says are “politically connected individuals” — have contacted him and attempted to blackmail him into abandoning the “Black and Asian Caucus in the Legislature.”
“I fully believed this matter was resolved at that time, but subsequently I have been contacted both directly and indirectly by politically connected individuals who have tried to use this mistake as a form of blackmail to force me into abandoning the Black and Asian Caucus in the Legislature,” Flagler-Mitchell said.
“These agents have threatened to make my mistake public unless I bow to their political wishes and walk away from this important caucus in an effort for me to ‘fall in line’ with their agenda,” he said. “They followed through with this threat because I was contacted by a media outlet regarding this matter. It was after that I learned that these same individuals have also contacted nearly every other member of the Black and Asian Caucus with the same threat.”
“I did not bow to this pressure and asked my colleagues not to either. I know what I did and I take full responsibility for it, but it is ‘extortion’ to threaten me and my colleagues with making this incident public unless we abandon the Black and Asian Caucus,” he said. “Threatening us to abandon our people is a disgusting politically motivated power play, but more than that, it is illegal.”