02/18/11 — Interim Fremont police chief files sex complaint

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Interim Fremont police chief files sex complaint

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 18, 2011 1:46 PM

Fremont interim police Chief Teresa Quinn is alleging sexual harassment and sexual discrimination in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Town Manager Kerry McDuffie.

Ms. Quinn, who was the patrol sergeant before being interim chief when former Chief R.K. Rawlings resigned in November, said she filed the complaint on Jan. 27, but that the incidents described in it go back much further.

"He just made some derogatory, sexual comments," she said -- both allegedly to her, and to third parties about her. "I was floored."

She also referenced actions on his part when she was working the night shift and he would allegedly spend time hanging around at the department.

"It made me very uncomfortable," she said.

And because of those actions, she explained, she felt his lack of support for her application to be the full-time chief was because of her gender.

"He's never supported me for the chief of police job," she said. "That's what they keep saying is that I'm just doing this because I didn't get the chief job, but no chief has even been announced yet, so I don't what's going on with that.

"I'm not trying to mudsling, but I don't want this just swept under the rug and ignored."

For his part, McDuffie deferred all comment to the town's attorney, Brian Pridgen of Rose, Rand, Wallace Attorneys in Wilson.

"A complaint has been filed against the town with the EEOC, and the town denies all the complaints therein," Pridgen said. "Beyond that I can't comment because it's a personnel matter."

Nor is the actual complaint itself a public document at this point," EEOC spokesman James Ryan said.

He explained that a complaint does not become public until it reaches the point of litigation, but that under Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the EEOC cannot file suit against a municipal employee. That would have to be done through either a local civil rights organization or through the U.S. Department of Justice, though a settlement prior to that point is always possible.

"Under that statute we cannot sue a city government. We may or may not be able to conciliate, but that, too, would be confidential," Ryan said.