Top U.N. official who resigned in sex assault case is rehired

March 07, 1994|By Newsday

NEW YORK -- A top United Nations official who resigned last month in the wake of a sexual assault case against him has been rehired as a senior consultant by the organization.

Luis Maria Gomez, 59, ended his 25-year U.N. career last month, about six weeks after a U.N.-appointed judge found him guilty in the United Nation's first formal sexual harassment case. Until last month, he was undersecretary-general of the U.N. Development Program, and one of the highest-ranking officials in the organization.

A former employee from the United States, Catherine Claxton, accused Mr. Gomez of forcibly grabbing and kissing her.

The case sparked intense debate about sexual harassment among some staff members of the United Nations and led U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to issue the first guidelines on the issue in the organization's 48-year history.

James Gustave Speth, administrator of the U.N. Development Program, told staff members in a memorandum last month that Mr. Gomez was resigning because "he has completed the mission for which he returned" to the agency in 1990.

But the agency's officials on Friday confirmed rumors that rather than returning to his native Argentina, as they had said he might, that Mr. Gomez would return as a "senior adviser" to Mr. Speth, performing the central duties he had had until he resigned.

Hilda Paqui, an agency spokeswoman, said Mr. Gomez would work "on a pro bono basis," for $1, and stay "for a limited period of time -- about four months."

But a U.N. lawyer who asked not to be named said that under the organization's rules, a senior consultant in New York would receive an allowance of up to $200 a day, tax-free. Mr. Gomez is also entitled to a severance and pension package worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And as a U.N. consultant, he would retain diplomatic immunity.

Under the United Nation's strict secrecy rules, both the hearing and report were kept under wraps.

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