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Daily Journal
     January 30, 2020      #67-30 KDJ
 

Watseka police chief served 15-day suspension in

By Jeff Bonty
jbonty@daily-journal.com


WATSEKA — City officials placed Watseka Police Chief Jeremy Douglas on a 15-day suspension after a former officer levied sexual harassment and retaliation charges against him.

The female officer filed a complaint in May 2019 with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, alleging Douglas made inappropriate comments on multiple occasions.

The Daily Journal obtained copies of the complaint through a Freedom of Information Act request to the city of Watseka. According to the complaint, the woman began her employment with the Watseka police force as a patrol officer in December 2014. Labeling it as discrimination, incidents listed in the complaint began as early as January 2015.

In her complaint, the officer accused Douglas of touching her inappropriately, making inappropriate comments and inquiring about her personal life. “Complainant repeatedly told the Chief that her personal life was none of his business,” the complaint read.

It also alleges the incidents occurred until September 2018, which is when she resigned from the department citing intolerable working conditions that made her departure “involuntary.”

Chief Douglas declined to comment. He has been with the department since 1998 and took over as police chief in May 2016 following the retirement of Robert Lebeck.

When reached for comment, Watseka Mayor John Allhands said, “We have been advised by our city attorneys not to make any comments.”

He did, however, say that Douglas served the 15-day suspension last summer.

Attorneys for the city filed a 13-page response to the allegations. In the response, which was also acquired by the Journal through a FOIA request, the city said the complainant failed to demonstrate that Douglas created a hostile work environment nor did she provide any evidence of retaliation.

The response said the officer signed documents confirming she received a copy of the department’s sexual harassment/discrimination policy and reviewed it. That policy stated she should have reported inappropriate behavior to the next higher supervisor in the chain of command, which was the mayor.

She did not report any harassment to the mayor until after she had resigned, according to the city’s response. It further stated that a subsequent investigation did not find anything to corroborate her accusations.

After the investigation, the city and Douglas agreed to a 15-day suspension for violating rules and regulations of the police department.

Douglas also agreed to implement and attend mandatory workplace sexual harassment awareness training for all members of the department.

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Jeff Bonty
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