Christian T. Kent, who was in charge of MetroAccess, abruptly left the agency Monday, according to a memo issued by Metro Chief Operating Officer Joe Leader.
The circumstances surrounding Kent’s departure were not clear. Leader’s memo said Kent was leaving to pursue other opportunities. However his departure as the agency’s assistant general manager for access services came days after an internal probe revealed “an unprofessional and hostile work environment” within MetroAccess.
Metro officials would not say if his departure was related to the investigation, saying the agency does not discuss personnel matters.
“I can confirm Christian Kent is no longer a [Metro] employee,” Metro spokeswoman Sherri Ly said.
Calls to a number believed to be Kent’s — and messages left on other platforms — were not returned.
Leader announced the personnel change in the memo to Metro employees.
“Effective today Mr. Christian Kent, AGM, Access Services, has left Metro to pursue other endeavors,” he said. “I would like to thank Christian for his 12 years of service.”
Kent’s departure comes during a period of turmoil for MetroAccess. The no. 2 official at the department, director Omari June, left the agency in August amid an Office of the Inspector General probe into his alleged racial and sexual harassment of a female subordinate.
In an update on the investigation to Metro’s board of directors last week, the OIG said a senior manager “repeatedly engaged in sexually-oriented discussions and unprofessional behavior towards the subordinate, other staff, and contract personnel.” The report did not name the manager, but a prior lawsuit settled out of court revealed that June was alleged to have committed the behavior.
The OIG update said the manager was disciplined. Still, the report concluded, “the senior manager’s sexually-oriented behavior continued.”
But the harassment claims were not limited to June.
“Furthermore,” the report said, “OIG noted the senior manager and other managers continued to foster an unprofessional and hostile work environment in which staff and contractor personnel were intimidated and feared reprisal for reporting inappropriate behavior.”
The report did not name the other managers.
A wide-ranging OIG probe into MetroAccess — including the harassment claims, allegations of manipulated performance data, and other areas — was expected to continue after Kent’s departure.
Metro Inspector General Geoff Cherrington said he could not comment on an open investigation or the circumstances of Kent’s departure.
The allegations against June, meanwhile, were laid out in the 2015 lawsuit — and detailed in a July article in The Washington Post.
According to the suit, June talked often about sex and bragged about the size of his genitalia. In once instance, he simulated a sex act using a water bottle, the lawsuit said. Another time, court documents said, June assigned the subordinate — a woman of Asian descent — weekend “homework” to “figure out” what color her skin was and report back the following Monday; he then followed up.
Leader said in the memo to employees that he intends to rotate responsibilities for acting MetroAccess chief. Christiaan Blake, the agency’s director of Americans with Disabilities Act policy and planning, will be the first to take over the role, he said.
Terrian Williams-Hall will assume June’s former role, director of MetroAccess, he said.
MetroAccess is the agency’s door-to-door paratransit service serving the elderly and people with disabilities. With a yearly budget of more than $100 million, it serves an estimated 43,000 customers, and is Metro’s fastest-growing and most expensive service.
Patrick Sheehan, a member and former longtime chairman of Metro’s Accessibility Advisory Committee, said Kent’s departure caught him by surprise. He was notified late Monday that Kent was leaving the agency. Sheehan and Kent had been in close contact for well over a decade, he said, in their capacities with Metro.
“I am as baffled as anybody,” he said. “I didn’t see anything coming. But there was never anything in my dealings with him, in any of the work that we did, that was anything less than stellar. His relationship with the committee has always been very good and very professional and extremely supportive.”
Luz Lazo contributed to this report.