Sexual harassment settlements in Miami-Dade and Broward counties cost taxpayers

(WSVN) - Secret settlements paid to the victims of sexual harassment are now out in the open as part of the nationwide “Me Too” movement. Some settlements here in South Florida are also being revealed — and you paid for them. Investigative reporter Brian Entin has our special report Secret Settlements.

Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Kevin Spacey were powerful men … accused of bad behavior.

But bad behavior can happen anywhere.

And women walk into a certain Miami warehouse everyday to confront harassment head on.

Brian Entin: “Is the Me Too movement having an impact locally?”

Jasmen Rogers, Miami Workers Center: “Absolutely, absolutely.”

Jasmen Rogers counsels women at the Miami Workers Center in Liberty City.

Some tell stories of harassment in private companies. Others work for local government.

Jasmen Rogers: “It takes a lot of courage for these women to come forward, especially in their government jobs where you wonder who is going to believe your story.”

One of the ways women can get justice is to sue.

If they work for the government, and they win a lawsuit or settle out of court — it’s taxpayers who foot the bill.

Jasmen Rogers: “What consequences do these people in power really have when governments and agencies are setting aside specific money to pay these lawsuits?”

We contacted every single city, town and village in Miami-Dade and Broward — all 65 municipalities plus the counties themselves, and we uncovered over the last five years, they’ve spent more than $180,000 on sexual harassment settlements.

There was a $40,000 payment to a Miami-Dade Police officer.

She said her supervisor made inappropriate comments like, “I will offer you $300 dollars if you can show me you have a Brazilian wax.”

A security officer painted a not-so-pretty picture of the beautiful Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

She says her supervisor asked inappropriate questions about her sexuality like, “Where do you do your dirty business?” and tried to show her a picture of a naked woman, saying, “Check out the [expletive] on this [expletive].”

That cost the county $29,000.

Now north to Davie, where taxpayers shelled out $50,000.

A firefighter said after her relationship with a superior ended, the harassment started.

She said he wrote her a card that read, “I wanna lick, lick, lick you from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. And don’t get me started on in-between!”

Jasmen Rogers: “Time is definitely up. Women are feeling more empowered.”

The nearly $180,000 in South Florida sex settlements we uncovered may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Pending investigations, newly filed lawsuits and women just now coming forward will only add to the price we’re all paying.

But no one is paying a higher price than the victims.

If there’s a story you think 7News should investigate, send an email to clue@wsvn.com.

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