Sex scandal draws query from mayor Dismissal of charges prompts probe

December 11, 1991|By Peter Hermann and Robert Lee

ANNAPOLIS -- Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins launched an inquiry yesterday into the Anapolis Fire Department's handling of a sexual misconduct scandal, as a second firefighter fired in the probe demanded reinstatement, saying the case against him was flawed.

On Monday, the fire chief threw out charges against firefighter Robert "Tommy" Thomas after determining that fire investigator Dan Earley's investigation had been tainted because he had had sex during off-duty hours with a woman described as "central to the allegations."

Mr. Thomas had been charged with having sex on duty and lying about it to investigators.

Yesterday, the lawyer for 24-year veteran Lt. Kenneth Rowe said the case against his client was tainted in the same way and should be dropped.

"I think the investigative techniques were fatally flawed," said attorney Ronald Baradel. "From day one I've been shaking my head. What they claim to be evidence and proof of this stuff is ludicrous."

Mr. Rowe appealed his dismissal to the city Civil Service Board Friday. Mr. Baradel denied that his client engaged in sex while on duty, as city officials charged last month.

City Administrator Michael Mallinoff said Monday's revelation prompted Mr. Hopkins to call in the department heads to review whether the "irregularities" may have led to unjust punishments.

"Obviously when you dismiss people and then it's revoked for those reasons it raises eyebrows and [the mayor] has taken an interest in it," Mr. Mallinoff said.

The investigation into on-duty sexual misconduct that led to the dismissal of three firefighters, the suspensions of two firefighters and two police officers has been shrouded in secrecy since the punishments were announced Nov. 1.

But the case started to unravel Friday during Mr. Thomas' appeals hearing, when his attorney called the probe a sham because firefighters were selectively prosecuted and others were threatened with termination if they didn't cooperate.

It was revealed during the hearing that the Fire Department's first investigator, Capt. Albert B. Baer, had taken himself off the investigation when his son, firefighter Scott Baer, who has been suspended, was implicated.

Now the second fire investigator, Mr. Earley, is under investigation, said Alderman Theresa DeGraff, R-Ward 7, chairman of the Public Safety committee.

"We need to step in and take a look at how the Fire Department investigates itself," she said, noting that fire investigators are trained to probe arson and fire procedures. "This is a whole different ballgame, and it's out of their league."

Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, said all remaining charges should be dropped.

But city officials note that two firefighters and two police officers have admitted to having sex while on duty. They said the investigations of the police officers, which were handled by the Police Department's Internal Affairs Division, are solid.

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