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NYC Officials 'Closely Monitoring' Allegations Against Gay Nightlife Gatekeeper Michael J. Cohen

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday October 1, 2022
Originally published on September 30, 2022

The New York City's Commission on Human Rights says it is "closely monitoring" allegations against gay nightlife producer Michael J. Cohen, reported NBC.

Last month, it was reported that Cohen was accused of sexual misconduct and racial discrimination by at least 8 men, including accusations that he groped or pressured men to have sex or to send nude photos.

NBC News also reported that staff members at Cohen's Motel 23 were accused of "treating some men of color and women differently from white men," including charging them more to enter.

"The Commission is aware of these allegations, as they have been raised by internal and external sources," said executive director of communications and marketing at the Commission on Human Rights, Jose Rios Lua, in an email to NBC. "We take every allegation seriously and are closely monitoring this issue."

Motel 23 announced in late July it would be closing for renovations, but it has yet to reopen. Cohen denied the accusations of misconduct and discrimination, and his lawyer, Rebecca Kaufman, said in a statement that "there is no investigation by any agency into Mr. Cohen or Motel 23."

She added, "Mr. Cohen would welcome the unveiling of anonymous sources who falsely accused him and the chance of confronting them in court — no person should be subjected to the guilt-before-innocence presumption he has endured."

After allegations against Cohen surfaced, New York City Council member Erik Bottcher shared in a statement that the "allegations must be fully investigated." Bottcher, who represents a swath of Manhattan's West Side that includes Motel 23's location, has been photographed attending parties Cohen has hosted.

Bottcher's chief of staff, Sean Coughlin, confirmed this month that Bottcher's office had urged the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct and racial discrimination.

"We will be following up in the weeks and months ahead to ensure that these allegations are investigated thoroughly," said Sean Coughlin, Bottcher's chief of staff, in an email.

The Commission on Human Rights has the ability wage civil penalties of up to $250,000. That includes directing businesses or owners to mandate anti-bias training.