Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Ex-cop charges Telford Borough with sexual harassment

Female officer says she was sexually harassed and intimidated for her five years on the force, including propositions by the chief, according to lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Ex-cop charges Telford Borough with sexual harassment

A former female Telford Borough police officer is suing the borough, the police department, the chief and two officers, claiming she was sexually harassed, intimidated and wrongfully fired.

Connie McGinniss, 27, of Quakertown, “was subjected to attitudes of hatred, dislike, mistrust, and mistreatment of women based on her status as the only female officer in the department,” according to her suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

“She was subjected to stalking, peeping, and explicit sexual language and pornographic displays belittling women” and McGinniss, according to the 30-page suit.

After five years on the force, she was fired in July 2010 in retaliation for her complaints to her supervisors, according to the suit.

Borough Manager Mark D. Fournier said he had not received the suit and declined to comment. He and a police department secretary referred calls to lawyer Chris Gerber, who did not return phone messages.

According to the suit:

Chief Randall Floyd made sexual advances to McGinniss, invited her to his home, hotels and his mountain house, and ordered her to give him rides home.

“Floyd continued to make [McGinniss] extremely uncomfortable by touching her inappropriately and telling her she smelled good. Floyd constantly touched [McGinniss], leaned up against her and smelled her hair, and even attempted to kiss” her.

In 2007, the chief invited McGinniss to train for the borough’s Bike Patrol, ordering her to make the uniform more sexually suggestive … tighter and more revealing. … Floyd then subjected her to inspection of her bike uniform to make sure it complied with his desires.”

Other officers on the nine-person force told McGinniss to wear a short sun dress to court and for other official police business instead of her uniform.

The chief and other supervisors also failed to respond to McGinnis’ complaints about the workplace, including pornography displayed on desks and computers, inappropriate conduct, threats and harassment.

Instead, McGinniss’ hours and overtime were cut back, reducing her $26,000 annual pay to $12,000.

In 2009, Officer David Stevens, who was named in the suit, started following McGinniss while he was off-duty, including to her DUI traffic stops.

One night when he was on duty, Stevens pulled McGinnis over on “a deserted road” outside the borough. “He did not issue a citation. In fact, he never documented the stop on the shift log, in violation of department policy.

“Officer Stevens terrified” McGinniss.

Officer David Bechtel, also named in the suit, requested that McGinniss “perform a reach-around” sexual act on him. She reported the incident to the chief.

“Within a few weeks, she was fired for writing a traffic ticket Chief Floyd told her not to write,” said McGinniss’ lawyer, Brian K. Wiley.

McGinniss’ personnel file did not contain any disciplinary notations about her performance or the complaints she had filed, according to the suit.

Weeks before her firing, the chief gave McGinniss a “glowing recommendation” that led to her prestigious appointment as a training officer at Camp Cadet, run by the Pennsylvania State Police, Wiley said.

The suit requests back pay with interest from the time of her firing, reinstatement or compensation for lost wages to retirement, compensatory and puniticve damages, legal fees and court costs. It also demands a jury trial.

McGinniss’ charges previously were filed with the district attorneys for Bucks and Montgomery counties, because the tiny borough of 4,900 straddles their borders. Wiley said he did not know whether either county was investigating the case.

Bucks’ David Heckler said the complaint did not involve criminal conduct and was in civil court, “where it belongs”

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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