Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine won’t face any discipline after an intern that worked for his charity accused him of sexual harassment. The former state senator runs Charity Challenge, a non-profit organization that gives thousands to the needy kids of Central Florida.
A student at the University of Central Florida (UCF) worked for the charity as an intern under Constantine and filed a complaint with UCF about his behavior. According to that complaint, the student felt uncomfortable, claiming Constantine put his hands on her on three separate occasions.
In the statement, the student claimed she was making phone calls when he approached her.
“He placed his hand on my shoulder that I was not balancing the phone on,” she claimed. “I pulled away and moved my chair forward, all while still talking on the phone. He then placed both of his hands on my shoulders and started massaging them, which is when I concluded my phone call and moved towards the computer to check my emails. He let go of my shoulders and placed his hand on my head, playing with my hair. I pulled my head away.”
At another point during her time with Charity Challenge, the intern claimed Constantine tickled her while she was standing on a ladder filling a pool with a water hose. In her statement to UCF, the intern claimed an unnamed person at Charity Challenge apologized for the commissioner’s actions once he had left for the day.
Florida Daily reached out to 1000 Friends of Florida, an organization out of Tallahassee dedicated to preserving the environment which has Constantine on its Board of Directors. The group is supporting Constantine.
1000 Friends of Florida President Paul Owens released a statement to Florida Daily.
“1000 Friends of Florida became aware of allegations of inappropriate touching directed at one of our Board members, Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine, last month when one local TV station in Orlando broadcast a story based on the allegations without obtaining comment from Mr. Constantine. While we take allegations of this nature seriously, Mr. Constantine has vigorously disputed them, and we are not aware of any additional information to corroborate the allegations. We have no grounds to doubt Mr. Constantine’s denials, and see no reason at this point to take further action,” Owens said.
Constantine spoke with Florida Daily about the incident, saying that he touched the young intern when she worked for Charity Challenge but steadfastly denying he had any kind of sexual intent whatsoever. He offered Florida Daily and the intern an apology if she felt like the touching was sexual in any kind of way.
Seminole County also does not plan to take action since the internship was entirely within the bounds of a non-profit outside of the county and that the intern never worked for or with the county government. UCF noted it will no longer send interns to Constantine’s Seminole County office or Charity Challenge.
Charity Challenge conducted its own internal investigation into the matter. Beatriz Flores confirmed to Florida Daily that the investigation cleared Constantine of wrongdoing.