A staffer in charge of investigating ethics complaints against members of Congress has been accused of sexually harassing women.
Omar Ashmawy is the staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, the office that investigates allegations of misconduct in the House of Representatives, including allegations of sexual harassment like those levied against former Democratic Rep. John Conyers (Mich).
Before joining the Office of Congressional Ethics, Ashmawy also represented victims of sexual assault in his role as a member of the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps. A Washington Post profile notes that he "defended a young female soldier whose allegation that she had been gang-raped prompted the Air Force to court martial her for committing indecent acts."
But somewhat ironically, Foreign Policy reported Thursday that Ashmawy himself is now facing accusations of "verbally abusing and physically assaulting women."
The lawsuit against Ashmawy dates back to a Valentine's Day 2015 incident at a Pennsylvania bar, where he got into a drunken brawl, according to court filings. Three women, including the bartender, told police at the time that the Air Force veteran sexually and physically harassed them.
Three men were arrested for assaulting Ashmawy. One of those men, Greg Martucci, is suing Ashmawy, claiming that he used his position to intimidate federal officers to "induce a criminal proceeding to be brought against Plaintiff and/or others."
Ashmawy denied the charges in a statement.
"To be clear, I did not harass anyone that evening, physically or verbally," he said. "To the contrary, I was the victim of a wholly unprovoked assault for which those responsible were investigated, arrested, and charged. Any allegation to the contrary is unequivocally false."