UNITED NATIONS – The lawyer for a woman who accused a senior United Nations official of sexual harassment said he believes that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan covered up for an old friend by letting him keep his job despite the harassment charges.
The accusation follows Sunday's resignation by Ruud Lubber (search), the U.N. high commissioner for refugees. Lubbers, a former Dutch prime minister, has insisted he's innocent of charges that he sexually harassed female staffers and has said he felt insulted, accusing U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan (search) of giving in to "media pressure."
The sexual harassment allegations were made against Lubbers in April 2004. In May of that year, an investigation into those claims was launched by the United Nations and the investigators backed the woman's claims.
But in July, Annan ruled that no further action be taken. He also kept the report secret.
The report was then leaked to FOX News last Friday, the same day Annan was holding a long-scheduled meeting with Lubbers. U.N. diplomats told The Associated Press that the secretary-general offered Lubbers two choices — resign or face suspension and charges of breaking U.N. rules.
Two days later, Lubbers resigned.
Annan's decision has left those familiar with the case, both inside and outside the United Nations, bemused. "This resignation should have happened a long time ago," one high-ranking U.N. official told FOX News.
The alleged victim's lawyer said Annan was simply trying to give a friend a break.
"Yes, in my opinion, absolutely," Annan was involved in a cover-up, said lawyer Ed Flaherty. "Again, there being no new facts between what Mr. Annan had in July of 2004 and yesterday, that in my mind was the only explanation."
Further evidence of Annan's determination to keep the report secret appears to come in a series of letter exchanged between the United Nations and the alleged victim in this case, which has been obtained by FOX News.
The letters show that the alleged victim, an American woman who was a 24-year veteran of the United Nations, repeatedly appealed to Annan to allow her to see the report into the allegations she made. Her request was consistently turned down, as shown by the letter.
A U.N. official told FOX News keeping these kinds of reports from an alleged victim is "standard procedure."
FOX News' Jonathan Hunt contributed to this report.