Supplying what she says are eight-year old voice recordings of Mayor/state Sen. Nick Sacco (D-32), a former North Bergen Twp. recreation department employee filed a sexual harassment complaint on Dec. 15th with the State Legislative Ethics Committee against Sacco.
“Ms. Coleman hopes to expose the culture of sexual harassment that is plaguing the women who work in the Board of Education, the Vocational Schools, and township offices to this day,” said Mario Blanch, attorney for Lydia Coleman. “Mr. Sacco has abused his power for years and finally someone is stepping up to blow the whistle on Sacco and expose the way he uses people who work for either the town of the school board.”
Coleman started working for the North Bergen School system as a part-time swimming instructor in 1997 and quit in 2005, according to Blanch.
In 2003, she said Sacco called her home phone and proceeded to leave a series of disquieting messages after she rejected his advances.
“You’re a retard,” Sacco allegedly told Coleman in one tape recorded message. “You better realize what you just did. It’s scary that you would be that stupid. You are stupid. You better get that call back in before the end of this night for whatever value it is. You better try. If you even take it, you better try. It’s scary what you just did to yourself.”
She submitted that recording and three others.
The Sacco Team said Coleman is not credible.
“Our position is this is a complete fraud and a political smear campaign,” said Sacco spokesman Paul Swibinski. “This woman is not believable. No one should believe anything she says. She has been in and out of jail and she is violent and dangerous. She sat for four months in a Union County jail after she stuck a gun in her boyfriend’s wife’s mouth and then proceeded to beat this woman.”
Those charges were subsequently administratively dismissed because the victim refused to cooperate.
“For her to come out of left field and make this accusation against Mayor Sacco who has a three-decade record of public service is an outrage,” added Swibinski, citing a 2005 bankruptcy filing by Coleman and public record of insurance fraud.
But it wasn’t just the messages, Coleman maintains.
She said during her time in the school system, Sacco – who also serves as assistant superintendent – made “numerous, unwanted advances toward her that intensified over time.”
“From the beginning of her employment in North Bergen, Sacco inappropriately pursued Ms. Coleman and had Ms. Coleman escort him to various political functions and extracurricular social functions,” according to the complaint. “Ms. Coleman felt compelled to attend such functions, although she did not want to attend, because of the position of political power Sacco maintains at the State and local level she did attend.”
Coleman said at one evening in Las Tapas Restaurant, Sacco aggressively followed her and told her, “You can become First Lady of North Bergen and the town would be yours for the taking.”
She says she rejected the mayor’s advances, which resulted in Sacco forcing her to drive his wife to work each day at the Hudson County Schools of Technology on township time.
According to the complaint, Sacco’s pursuit Coleman peaked following an incident at Babaloo’s restaurant, the night before Valentine’s day in 2003.
Sacco and a male friend (a judge) arrived at the establishment, according to Coleman, and the mayor “proceeded to conduct himself in a “sexually inappropriate manner.”
“At one point, he put his hands on (Coleman’s) leg, moving into close proximity of her pelvic region. In addition, he placed his hands on her sides, and forcibly pulled her onto him. He then proceeded to advise Coleman, in front of others, that she was going to take him back to his apartment, and then proceed to have sexual intercourse with him.”
Before she left Babaloo’s, Coleman told Sacco she would not drive him home and would not have sexual intercourse with him. Later that evening the mayor allegedly called Coleman’s cell phone and left the following inappropriate messages:
“I think you should call me back at 868-4304.
“I think it would be very wise thing to do right at this moment. You don’t want to, don’t. It would be wise to do it.
“I think you better really call me back. You embarrassed me in front of a judge, who is my oldest, closest friend from the old days.
“Don’t’ ever, ever think that’s meaningful. Unless you really understand what you did. You’re a RETARD. You better realize what you just did. It’s scary that you would be that stupid. You are STUPID. You better get that call back in before the end of this night for whatever value it is. You better try. If you even take it, you better try. It’s scary what you just did to yourself.
“You don’t seem to understand that everything is in my hands right now. Everything is in my hands. You don’t understand that because you’re a XXXXing retard. You can’t understand it. You better get back at 868-4304 as soon as you hear this message. You better get back cause if you don’t know how I feel this moment. You may hear it, but you don’t know it. You don’t know what I am capable of doing. You better get back and make amends for your scumbag behavior. But if you don’t, that’s quite alright. It’s quite alright with me. I handle what I have to do.
“Lydia, you’ve XXXXed up all over your life. This is the biggest XXXX-up you have made in your life. You don’t even understand, until tomorrow or till Tuesday. You won’t understand it. I don’t believe that you could be this incompetent. But I guess I shouldn’t be shocked. People said you were a XXXXing pig, degenerate and I shouldn’t be shocked. But you are. You are. I can’t believe you would be this stupid as an individual. But you are. I am still sitting here waiting for that call. I expect you to make the call you, if you don’t, expect what happens, happens. Because of what you are. Thank You.”
Swibinsi said it sounds like Sacco on the tape but suspects it is doctored, and said the mayor has no recollection of using profanity.