Joe Bocchini, the former prosecutor in Mercer County, New Jersey, is currently under a criminal investigation for allegedly harassing several employees over the last ten years. In addition to sending inappropriate emails with the subject line “breast of the day”, Bocchini also sent crude sexual jokes and animated cartoons. He also allegedly made unwanted overtures and touched female employees inappropriately.
Other allegations include having his secretary handle his personal affairs on the county’s time, including planning his wedding and scheduling golf tournaments. If found guilty of these allegations, Bocchini faces a mandatory 5-year prison sentence for official misconduct.
An anonymous employee of Bocchini claimed to have created a folder on her work desktop computer with all of the inappropriate emails Bocchini sent her. After telling Bocchini of the folder’s existence, it mysteriously disappeared from her desktop. There will be a hearing to determine whether or not county officials will be forced to turn over Bocchini’s emails.
Bocchini, who has been a county prosecutor for 11 years, recently retired from his position in February. He was going to come out of retirement to join the legal team of a Hamilton law firm, but when news of the allegations made headlines, Bocchini resigned.
Under both California and federal law, sexual harassment includes being in a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment can include unwanted sexual jokes, comments, showing of pornography, touching etc… For more on this issue see here.
What do you think about a prosecutor engaging in such conduct? Do you think it should be a criminal issue (like it is here) or just a civil one?