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Judge: Harassment made life 'unbearable'

Hempstead Village Justice Tanya Hobson-Williams discusses accusations of

Hempstead Village Justice Tanya Hobson-Williams discusses accusations of sexual harassment she filed with the State Division of Human Rights. (Oct. 12, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Village Justice Tanya Hobson-Williams said her life was made "unbearable" by what she says was Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr.'s campaign of sexual harassment, and bullying and retaliation after she did not entertain his sexual advances.

Hobson-Williams cried during a news conference Friday, saying Hall's alleged actions were an assault on her dignity. Hall continued to deny the allegations, adding the justice exhibited "bizarre" behavior during her tenure as judge.

"Mayor Hall and his administration have made my life unbearable," said Hobson-Williams, 46. "When I rejected his advances and declined his sexual invitations, he made my job a living nightmare."

Hobson-Williams last month filed a complaint with the state Division of Human Rights accusing Hall of sexual harassment, discrimination and intimidation. She also sent a letter last week to Hall saying she intends to file a federal lawsuit against him and the village seeking $5 million in damages.

Hobson-Williams alleged in her complaint that in 2009 Hall asked her twice to "get together" in Brooklyn and to "wear something sexy," and a year later asked her to meet him at a hotel in Brooklyn, but she declined both advances.

Asked why she didn't file a complaint until September, her attorney Rick Ostrove said, "She took some internal steps and at some point realized she wasn't getting anywhere internally and decided to file externally."

Hall said Hobson-Williams, a fellow Democrat, made the accusations because he declined to run with her in March's village elections. Hall, 65, said the judge also is upset because he filed a complaint against her in 2011 with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

"There wasn't any harassment," Hall said. "Nobody would wait two years to make these allegations and then try to be on my ticket . . . This is a retaliatory act on her part."

Hobson-Williams said she filed several complaints with the village human resources department about his alleged sexual harassment; Ostrove refused to produce the documents. Hall said she never filed any complaints.

Hall released details Friday of his complaint to the state alleging what he described as her "bizarre" behavior: the judge hired personnel without authority, requested that friends be employed by the village, presided over her own case involving a village summons, requested a 24-hour police detail, and installed a vending machine in the village court clerk check-in and payment area without village permission. Ostrove denied those claims, adding the judge did recommend "competent" people with whom she had worked.

The state Office of Court Administration denied Hobson-Williams' assertion, made Thursday, that she'd gotten its permission to install the vending machine.

"We have no record of any such request," OCA spokeswoman Arlene Hackel said.

Hobson-Williams said she plans to continue in her $61,000-a-year part-time position until her term ends in April.

With Matthew Chayes

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