WASHINGTON — When Kevin Carwile arrived to run the #Justice Department’s death penalty unit in 2010, he had never prosecuted or sat through an entire capital punishment case. He was moved into the job after overseeing the gangs unit, and some prosecutors worried he lacked the expertise to steer the division.
Now Mr. Carwile has been removed from his post after The New York Times inquired about a series of grievances against him, including complaints that he promoted gender bias and a “sexualized environment.” He fostered a culture of favoritism and sexism, according to court records, internal documents and interviews with more than a half-dozen current and former employees. In one episode, his deputy groped an administrative assistant at a bar in view of their colleagues, according to some who were present. Mr. Carwile asked the witnesses to keep it secret, one said.
Employees of the unit, the #capital case section, complained about the issues to Justice Department officials, the inspector general and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at least 12 times. Some allegations went unaddressed for years. In cases that were investigated, the accusers were never told what investigators found. Both Mr. Carwile and his deputy, Gwynn Kinsey, remained Justice Department employees despite the inquiries.
Six employees, including the administrative assistant, said they eventually left the section or quit government altogether in part because of the toxic climate. A defendant in Indiana has asked in court for the government to drop the death penalty recommendation in his case because of the unit’s emerging conduct issues.
Mr. Carwile declined to comment. After The Times contacted the Justice Department for this article, he was demoted and detailed to a different division. Through his lawyers, Mr. Kinsey declined to comment.
“The Department of Justice takes these allegations extremely seriously but cannot discuss specific employee disciplinary actions, or comment on internally handled personnel actions or matters that may impact personal privacy,” said Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman. The department confirmed that it referred some allegations made by employees to the inspector general, whose spokesman would not confirm or deny any investigation.
The unit is poised to gain power. President Trump has suggested the United States start executing drug dealers, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has urged prosecutors to seek the death penalty whenever possible in drug-related crimes.