The Little Egg Harbor Municipal Utilites Authority quietly paid out a $140,000 settlement after an MUA employee accused the now-retired executive director of “severe and pervasive” sexual harassment during the course of her employment with the LEHMUA.
While he was employed as the Little Egg Harbor MUA’s Executive Director, David V. Johnson took home by far the highest salary in Ocean County, compared to any other MUA executive director, raking in over $200,000 per year off the backs of the ratepayers. Mr. Johnson is also an elected member of the Ocean County Republican Committee, representing district 9 of Little Egg Harbor.
But earning double the salary of his peers in Lacey, Lakewood – or any any other town in South Jersey for that matter – was not enough for Mr. Johnson, according to court documents first revealed to the public by open records warrior John Paff this week. MUA employee Nicole Kelley alleged that after admitting he “was unhappy with his marriage” he wanted to be her “sugar daddy,” despite directly supervising her at work. From that point he reportedly became more forward in his advances.
According to the allegations made by LEHMUA Senior Clerk Nicole Kelley contained in the lawsuit Johnson regularly made “inappropriate comments” to Ms. Kelley on a regular basis. Additionally, it was alleged that he
“..would regularly call Nicole into his office, shut the door, and ask her about her personal life. At the end of these conversations, Defendant Johnson would always end by hugging Nicole and kissing her on the lips.”
Furthermore the suit alleged that after Ms. Kelley rejected Johnson’s advances, he began to retaliate against her at work, and she faced other consequences as a result of her failure to.
Mr. Johnson left the MUA months before the original lawsuit was filed, with his last meeting being in 2014. He currently draws a $103,051 annual pension for his 27 years of employment. At his final meeting, MUA board commisioners honored Johnson for “over 27 years of outstanding service, caring and dedication.”
Ms. Kelley received a $140,000 settlement to put the suit to rest, $15,000 will be paid by the MUA and $125,000 by the authority’s insurer. While none of these allegations have been affirmatively proven or disproven in a court of competent jurisdiction, the Little Egg Harbor MUA, its attorneys, or its insurance carrier for whatever reason would rather have paid the purported victim off rather than go to trial. Maybe it was to save money and time for costly litigation, or maybe they wanted to save the embarrassment of additional lurid details coming out at trial. We won’t know the full story since the case settled, and the settlement agreement contains one of those pesky non-disparagement and confidentiality clauses binding upon both parties.