Fired gay cop details harassment allegations Oct 11, 2013 14:37:08 GMT -5
Post by bluepride on Oct 11, 2013 14:37:08 GMT -5
Fired gay cop details harassment allegations
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A former officer fired by the Audubon Park Police Department says he was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation even before he joined the department in April 2009.
A background investigation found out Kile Nave was gay, and Deputy Chief Ron Jones tried to talk the chief out of hiring him, Nave said.
He got on the force in the Louisville suburb, only to face a constant stream of harassment from Jones, Nave and other officers said.
Nave said Jones called him derogatory names, told a gay joke in front of him on the firing range and even told other officers - falsely - that he went on medical leave because of injuries he suffered during sex with his partner, according to court records.
When Nave complained, he said, Jones responded by denying his vacation requests, making him work weekends instead of less senior officers, and even refusing to replace his police shoes, one of which had a huge hole.
After a "profanity-laced rant" by Jones in July 2012, Nave said, he complained in writing to Chief Jeff Cox.
But instead of investigating his complaint, Cox investigated him, Nave said. He was charged with "insubordination" and violating 57 department policies, though he'd never been sanctioned before. Two weeks later, he was terminated.
Nave responded by filing a lawsuit in Jefferson Circuit Circuit and a complaint with the Louisville Human Relations Commission.
"I am just one person, but the sea of change must start somewhere," Nave told reporters Thursday, standing in front of the Audubon Police Department. "The bullying and bigoted behavior must stop, and it must stop now."
Nave said he has now been vindicated by a commission finding of probable cause that he was discriminated against based on his sexual orientation.
His attorney and the Fairness Campaign released an Oct. 3 letter to Audubon Park's lawyer saying the commission found Nave was harassed and terminated for the simple reason that he was "a gay man who complained about the way he was treated."
The letter said his grievances were ignored and that instead the department filed unsubstantiated charges against him and unfairly fired him.
In fact, the commission said, statements from current and former co-workers said his performance was "exemplary."
Jeff Vaughn, an attorney for Audubon Park, said the city denies all allegations and has moved to dismiss the lawsuit. He called the findings "preliminary" and based on a "limited investigation," though the letter said it was made after reviewing statements from numerous witnesses.
Audubon Park Mayor Michael Scalise, who is named as a defendant in Nave's Aug. 16 suit, did not respond to requests left at his office and home for comment.
Jones did not respond to messages left at his home in Crestwood, and Cox couldn't be reached for comment. Both have left the Audubon Park department, but Vaughn wouldn't say if they resigned or were fired, or if their departure was connected to Nave's complaint.
The commission's executive director, Carolyn Miller-Cooper, said the finding is preliminary and that she couldn't release the letter until the case - which she described as ongoing - is concluded.
The letter said the commission has passed on a proposed conciliation agreement that Nave thinks "would make him whole." Neither Vaughn nor Nave's lawyer, Bryan Gatewood, would discuss the proposed settlement.
Thanking "God, my partner and our son," Nave told reporters he was relieved by the finding, but not happy.
He said he has been unemployed for 14 months and unable to find a job in policing - the field he loves - despite dozens of applications.
He said he appreciated the support of current and former officers, who he said had been "wonderful."
His lawsuit says that three officers - Jenny Assif, Edward Winstel and Steve Cambron - testified at his termination hearing that Jones had made repeated harassing comments, while a fourth, Travis Schoenlaub, testified that Jones had made the derogatory joke on the practice range in front of Nave, who asked him to stop.
Nave said he had worked for about 20 years in law enforcement - including seven as police chief in his hometown of Marshall, Ill., before he moved to Louisville after meeting his partner, Louisville native Will Smith.
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