Fire Department Lieutenant Fired, Deputy Chief Disciplined After Sex Harassment Probe: Watchdog

(WTTW News)

A Chicago Fire Department lieutenant was fired after the city’s watchdog determined that they repeatedly sexually harassed a restaurant employee while on duty and in uniform, according to an audit released Friday by Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

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In addition, a Chicago Fire Department deputy chief was reprimanded for interfering with the harassment probe on behalf of the lieutenant, a close friend, according to the inspector general’s quarterly report covering the first three months of 2021.

Four days ago, Ferguson released an audit that found that the department’s rules designed to prevent discrimination and sexual harassment are “insufficient.”

The lieutenant, who was not identified in keeping with the rules governing the inspector general’s office, frequented the restaurant numerous times a week and made unwanted and inappropriate comments, calling the worker “pretty,” “baby” and “sweetie” and asking them “to make my food with love?” before telling them. “I’m gonna marry you someday,” according to the audit. 

“The sexual harassment culminated one afternoon when the lieutenant approached the restaurant employee and kissed them on the cheek without consent or invitation,” according to the audit.

The lieutenant “repeatedly lied” to misconduct investigators in the Fire Department and in the inspector general’s office, according to the audit.

In addition, a Chicago Fire Department battalion chief, who was also not identified, “conducted an impromptu and unsanctioned investigation” into the allegations against the lieutenant “despite the close personal relationship between the” two fire department members.

Both were assigned to the Chicago Fire Department’s Quinn Fire Academy, according to the audit. Members of the department assigned to work at the academy, including the battalion chief, have been retrained on the department's sexual harassment rules, according to the audit.

“The battalion chief also made inappropriate remarks to other [Chicago Fire Department] personnel upon learning of the complaint against lieutenant, including, ‘No one better talk to the media about this or I’ll kick their teeth in,’” according to the audit.

The lieutenant has appealed his termination, and the battalion chief received “a written reprimand,” according to the audit.

As a result of a second investigation, city officials fired a truck driver for the Department of Water Management for masturbating inside of a city truck while on duty during the day while parked in a residential neighborhood, according to the audit.

A resident of that neighborhood recorded the driver during the act, according to the audit.

When confronted with the video, the truck driver “made multiple misleading and untruthful statements, including statements that the MTD had spilled a drink on themselves and, later, that they were “urinating into a bottle,” according to the audit.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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