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Former Suffolk assistant district attorney violated expectations but didn’t break law, probe finds

Adam Foss spoke on stage at Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards in 2016.Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Fe

A former Suffolk assistant district attorney who was accused of sexually harassing young women was found by an independent investigation to have engaged in behavior with female interns that violated the expectations of his office but did not constitute criminal activity, authorities said Thursday.

Adam Foss, who worked in the Suffolk DA’s office from 2008 to 2016, was accused by several women last November of “behavior that ranged from inappropriate and an abuse of his authority, to unethical and criminal,” according to a statement from the office of Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who brought in the law firm of Goodwin Procter to investigate the allegations.

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“All of the women who brought their experiences to light — sharing intimate details of deception, coercion, manipulation, and even sexual assault — exhibited tremendous courage,” Rollins said in the statement. “Much of the behavior alleged occurred outside of Suffolk County and it is my understanding that at least one other investigation is ongoing.”

Rollins took office three years after Foss’s departure.

Attorneys Roberto M. Braceras and Jennifer L. Chunias, who led the Suffolk County investigation, said in a letter to Rollins Wednesday that they did not find that Foss violated any law, office policy, or ethical rule.

“That being said, our review identified evidence that Mr. Foss engaged in concerning conduct with at least two female Office interns and students that violated informal SCDAO expectations and norms,” Braceras and Chunias said in the letter.

Foss could not be reached for comment.

Leaders in the office during Foss’s tenure say they were unaware of any misconduct, and the attorneys found no evidence that it had been reported to them.

“Our investigation … did not identify any evidence that the Office’s then senior management team failed to respond to any allegation of misconduct by Mr. Foss during his tenure,” they wrote.

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The investigation included interviews with 28 people and searches of an array of electronic documents, according to Rollins’s office, and the attorneys’ final report includes recommendations for employee training and reporting protocols. That report will remain confidential to protect the privacy of those who were interviewed, Rollins’s office said.

“Victims always have a right to tell their own stories and should be given the opportunity, empowerment, and respect to control their narrative. This is not SCDAO’s story to tell,” Rollins said in the statement. “I want to explain the process and scope of the investigation, that we took the allegations very seriously and that we have already, or are now putting in place policies, protocols and procedures to ensure that the troubling behavior reported cannot happen again.”

She added that there may be other victims who “may not want to, or be ready to, disclose encounters or harm yet, if ever. Everyone experiences trauma differently. Everyone heals differently.

“That Mr. Foss’ behavior in Suffolk County was not ‘criminal’ is of no solace to the women his conduct impacted and harmed,” she continued. “As the leader of this Office, I want to personally apologize for your experience here. You did not deserve the treatment you were subjected to. It was unprofessional and not appropriate.”


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.