Statement by the Women of Philadelphia City Council
November 12, 2015
The women of the Council of the City of Philadelphia stand with The Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) to denounce the demeaning, misogynistic and racist emails sent on state-owned computers by prosecutors currently employed by Philadelphia’s DA’s Office.
Whereas, Frank Fina, E. Marc Costanzo, and Pat Blessington who are currently prosecutors in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office, exchanged and circulated numerous emails and photographs while they worked for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office; and
Whereas, Frank Fina’s involvement in prosecuting sex crimes makes this behavior all the more disgraceful; and
Whereas, The emails which these men forwarded reportedly include women in compromising sexual situations with captions indicating advancing in the work place requires such acts, depiction of African American babies as violent from infancy, and stereotyping and ridiculing of gay men; and
Whereas, A culture of misogyny and racism that permeates the highest levels of government is evidence of gross misconduct; and
Whereas, We are calling for consequences for such behavior in order to repair and restore public confidence in our law enforcement entities; and
Whereas, We stand together to urge District Attorney Seth Williams to respond to this matter with the utmost urgency; and
Whereas, The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States with 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its founding in 1966, NOW’s goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women; and
Whereas, This City Council through its previous legislative actions has supported the elimination of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; and
Whereas, NOW is organizing a petition calling for the termination of Frank Fina, E. Marc Costanzo, and Pat Blessington from their positions in the DA’s office; therefore be it
Resolved, that the women of the Council of the City of Philadelphia stand with The Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) to denounce the demeaning, misogynistic and racist emails sent on state owned computers by Philadelphia’s DA’s Office.
Councilwoman Cindy Bass
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell
Councilwoman Marian Tasco
Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez
Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown
Here is the link to the demeaning images if you want to review: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/53216356/fina-noonan-feathers-kane-et-al-porn-emails-396-pages-complete-8-26-15
If you do not want to view them on your computer, they are physically available to be reviewed at the location below:
It’s located at the state Supreme Court’s Office of the Prothonotary, Room 478 City Hall. (Phone: 215 – 560 – 6370.) Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. Adult visitors are ushered into a private room where the binder is located. It’s a large binder containing 398 pages of the porn.
To gain entrance to City Hall, one must present a valid photo ID at the front entrance (NE quadrant). Then, take an elevator to the fourth floor.
WARNING: Much of imagery is extremely graphic. The material is replete with cruel & disparaging references to women amongst other things.
Stand with Philadelphia NOW & the Women of Philadelphia City Council
It is time for decent people in Philadelphia to step up and put an end to an environment of impunity in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office where perpetrators of misogyny, racism and homophobia continue to have the jurisdiction over the prosecution of crimes.
Women of City Council are going to have the Press conference to express solidarity with Phila NOW and join them in denouncing the dissemination of the misogynistic, racist and homophobic emails by prosecutors while in the AG’s Office (and continue to be employed in the Phila DA’s office) on November 12th at 9:15 a.m. in the 4th floor City Council Caucus Room. The resolution/solidarity statement by the Women of City Council will be available for all at the Press conference.
Philadelphia-NOW will announce the start of the online petition to demand removal of these prosecutors. Please share with your friends, family and colleagues, and invite as many people as possible to join us. We hope to have a great turnout to decry this untenable situation with no consequences thus far for the perpetrators.
Many thanks for your support,
Nina Ahmad, Ph.D.
President, Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
Philadelphia NOW’s Position on this matter
Philadelphia NOW finds the response of Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams to this behavior of his senior staff, Frank Fina, Marc Costanzo & Patrick Blessington, irresponsible and unacceptable. The involvement of his senior staff in receiving and forwarding misogynistic, racist, and homophobic emails with disgusting images of women and people of color with awful captions while they worked in the AG’s office is reprehensible. These truly despicable and abhorrent emails include women in compromising sexual situations with captions indicating advancing in the work place requires such acts, depiction of African Americans babies as violent from infancy, and stereotyping and ridiculing of gay men. As responsible prosecutors sworn to uphold the law, they should have immediately deleted them and told the person sending these to cease and desist; yet two of them continued to forward the emails to others and none of the three took any corrective action. That Frank Fina was involved in prosecuting sex crimes makes this all the more egregious. Can you imagine being a victim of domestic violence or rape who has to trust the public officials charged with investigating sex crimes who thought it fine to swap demeaning pictures of women? The D.A.’s office alone handles 1,000 sex-crime cases a year. This gross misconduct points to the culture of misogyny & racism that permeates the highest levels of government. There must be consequences for such behavior in order to change this culture and to repair & restore public confidence in our law enforcement entities.
Public trust is further eroded by the fact there is a widespread, private relationship between prosecutors in both criminal and civil matters and the judges they appear before in those cases since these emails were traded with a wide swath of people, including judges. Former PA Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille stated that this is a violation of state law, but it also indicates a conflict of interest for any judge who hears matters in which those prosecutors are involved. This is a compromise of the judiciary by members of the executive branch, a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers. These men continue to have active prosecutorial roles. It is time for the Supreme Court to appoint an independent counsel to examine the extent of this practice. The special counsel should have the power to interview the senders and receivers of these emails and the judges & prosecutors who received them to determine what private relationships exist.
Such revelations underscore how much farther we must traverse as a society to root out misogyny, racism and homophobia that are so deeply embedded in our institutions and NOW is firmly committed to continue to do so. Philadelphia-NOW is launching a petition drive to demand the removal of these prosecutors. We look forward to having you join the honorable Councilwomen and Philadelphia NOW on November 12, 2015 at 9:15 a.m. in the Council Caucus room (4th Floor of City hall) and collectively work towards making Philadelphia the “City of Sisterly Affection and Brotherly Love.”