TSA official promoted after settling sexual harassment claim, gets senior Homeland Security job


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A top TSA official, who FOX 46 first discovered was promoted after settling a reported six-figure sexual harassment lawsuit, has been promoted again, to a senior national security role.

“That lets me know there is no respect for women in the TSA,” said Sonya Labosco, a former federal air marshal supervisor who filed the lawsuit. “None.”

According to a report by the Huffington Post, Charles “Chas” Cook was tapped for a “senior advisory role” at the Department of Homeland Security. Cook, who was the TSA’s deputy assistant director for flight operations, will become the “principal deputy assistant secretary in the department’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office,” according to the report, which cited an internal email. 

“I was in total disbelief,” said Labosco, who filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint and federal sexual harassment lawsuit against Cook, which was settled in 2015.

“DHS holds all employees to the highest standards and takes all allegations of misconduct seriously,” a DHS official said. “The allegations against Mr. Cook were thoroughly investigated by TSA and the claims were determined to be unsupported.”

Last year, in an exclusive interview, Labosco told FOX 46 she experienced sexual harassment, physical assault and retaliation from Cook, who was her boss at the time. 

“He said he had ‘eight inches of c–k waiting on you anytime you want,'” Labosco recalled Cook telling her. 

She says he “put his hand behind my neck and tried to kiss me on the mouth” at a party and “held his hands over his erection in his pants.”

The incident was witnessed by her now husband, who was an air marshal at the time. 

“I was in shock,” said Labosco. 

Labosco said she experienced retaliation when she turned down Cook’s advances and said, on one occasion, he physically grabbed her wrist and “twisted it really hard.” That incident was witnessed by another air marshal interviewed by FOX 46. 

“He battered me in the field office,” said Labosco, after learning of Cook’s latest promotion. “Now he’s going into a position where he’s going to oversee a program weapons of mass destruction? I’m concerned for our nation.”

Rep. Darren Soto (D-Florida) is also concerned. Last year, Soto said he was “outraged” by the allegations and told us he believed Labosco. 

“There should be some reprimand rather than continued promotions,” Soto said at the time. 

Now, the Florida congressman says he’s already taken action in response to Cook’s promotion.

“We shouldn’t be promoting individuals with a history of sexual harassment into leadership positions in our federal government,” said Soto. “I have already forwarded this matter to the Committee on Homeland Security for review.”

Cook was selected for the position, which is “staffed on a rotating basis,” because of his “expertise in intelligence and operations,” a DHS official said. 

“DHS CWMD’s [Department of Homeland Security Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction] principal deputy position is staff on a rotating basis by senior representatives from DHS operating components,” a DHS official said. “Mr. Cook was selected to fill the next rotation in this position based on his extensive experience in homeland security and his expertise in intelligence and operations.”

Labosco wants to see the DHS re-open its investigation into her complaints. 

“He should not be in charge of thousands of employees,” she said. “I feel like this agency is broken.”

A DHS official described Cook to the Huffington Post as an “employee in good standing.” 

This story has been updated to include a Department of Homeland Security statement sent after the story was broadcast. 

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