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President of Largest Federal Employee Union Resigns Amid Investigation

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox on Friday resigned from his post at the union amid a slew of sexual harassment and abuse allegations.

Cox has been on a leave of absence since Bloomberg Law first published the allegations against him in October. AFGE has contracted with the firm Working IDEAL for an independent investigation of the allegations and workforce culture at the union, conducted by former Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chairwoman Jenny Yang.

In accepting Cox’s resignation, the union said it agreed to end “the processing” of the initial charges against the former president, while Cox forfeited his right to hold or run for any position at the union “in perpetuity.” AFGE said it will continue to process more recent allegations against Cox, and the independent investigation also will continue.

“This resignation does not affect the investigation being conducted by Working IDEAL, nor does it alter AFGE’s commitment to process the February 2020 or any future charges filed against Cox pursuant to the AFGE constitution,” the union said in a statement.

AFGE did not immediately respond to comment on the new allegations. But Bloomberg Law reported Friday that earlier this month, a union member filed internal charges, alleging that Cox sexually abused her son for years, who was one of Cox’s drivers.

Brett Copeland, a former AFGE employee who was the first to come forward about Cox’s misconduct, said he hoped that Cox’s resignation would provide an opportunity for victims “to heal.” But he said the sheer volume of allegations—more than a dozen people ultimately experienced or witnessed harassment by the former president—indicates more fulsome change is needed.

“I think this is a process that is going to continue,” Copeland told Government Executive. “I’m still waiting for the report from Working IDEAL, and I don’t know that I’ll be satisfied until I hear that this is not going to be able to happen again at AFGE. I loved the union, and I believed in its mission, but as more people come forward, it is obvious this was a chronic management issue. It’s disappointing that I wasn’t the only story, that quite a few people had this happen to them.”

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