Three Philly prosecutors get sensitivity training

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Three prosecutors embroiled in a controversy over pornographic emails have received sensitivity training, along with supervisors and other staff members,the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

The training, was brought on by a festering scandal over racist, pornographic and homophobic emails sent or received by threeprosecutors, Marc Costanzo, Patrick Blessington and Frank Fina while they worked for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.

“They have learned from their mistakes,” District Attorney Seth Williams said in a statement”This training along withcontinued reinforcement and supervision will allow us to move the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Officeforward and do what we do best – work to make the city a safer and more honest place to live, workand raise a family.”

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The emails included fake motivational posters with a pantsless woman performing oral sex on her boss and another engaged in anal sex, captioned: “Take advantage of every opening.”

Theywere unsealed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Courtas part of a tangled, years-long tale of intrigue stemming from the investigation into Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was charged with perjury over grand jury leaks.

The training was conducted by motivational speaker and workplace consultantPaul Meshanko, CEO of Legacy Business Cultures.

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Meshanko did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement released by the district attorney’s office, he remarked that employees who took part appeared “engaged and participative.” (That last one might not be a real word.)

“By exploring how blind spots, stereotypes and biases can lead to inappropriate actions and behaviors,both consciously and unconsciously, I believe the entire group is now much more aware of steps theycan take to minimize the degree to which subtle demonstrations of sexism, racism and/or homophobia can taint the otherwise outstanding work done by your office,” Meshanko said.

The Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women has called for Williams to fire the three prosecutors.

“The training was given by a person with a Business degree,” said Nina Ahmad, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women, “not anyone with psychological training to unpack such fundamental character traits where anyone who is not like the three men were subjected to vile characterization.”

Most sensitivity training, is done to prevent harrassment in the workplace, said Deborah Weinstein, a Philadelphia employment attorney who also offers sensitivity training. The DA’s training is rare in that it was done after an incident.

“Sensitivity training is not discipline,” Weinstein said.

She has conducted trainings for groups as part of a company’s anti-harrassment policy, or in individual instances when an executive has been accused of harrassment but is deemed so essential to the business that they cannot be fired.

She said that yes, people are disciplined for watching pornography on work computers, and she’s seen racy emails in companies she’s worked with. But the emails found in the prosecutors’ inbox were at “the outer edges” of what she sees.

“What these attorneys did would be grounds for termination in the corporate world,” Weinstein said.

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