Another officer joins suit accusing Hurlock chief Allegations include sex deals to women

June 12, 1993|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

Another former Hurlock police officer has joined in a federal lawsuit claiming that the town's police chief used unorthodox and illegal practices to run his department, including offers to women facing arrest that they would not be charged if they agreed to have sex with the chief.

The lawsuit was filed April 29 by three former officers in the small Dorchester County town, one current officer and two civilians. The suit was amended yesterday to add a fourth former officer, Adam Brad Nevins.

Harry M. Walsh Jr., the lawyer representing all seven plaintiffs, said his office in Easton has been inundated with calls from potential witnesses since the suit was made public. He said "two or three" more people may join the suit before the case is tried.

The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars in damages from Hurlock Police Chief Wendell C. Travers and Mayor Donald W. Bradley. The suit alleges that the mayor knew of the chief's policies but failed to take action to correct the way the Police Department was managed.

In their complaint, the officers allege that people picked up by police in the Eastern Shore town were ordered to do maintenance work on department property, such as washing and cleaning cars, to avoid being charged with a crime.

Court papers say the chief's alleged practices went on from August 1990 to November 1992 without the knowledge of prosecutors or courts.

Mr. Nevins is an Easton resident who quit the Hurlock force in April partly because he refused the chief's demands to "solicit females for Travers' sexual pleasures," the suit says. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, also claims that officers knew of "at least one occasion" in which a woman had sex with Chief Travers to avoid criminal charges.

Daniel Karp, a Baltimore lawyer representing Chief Travers and Mayor Bradley, said yesterday that his clients are innocent, that the suit is without factual basis. "There is a good deal of creative pleading and wishful thinking," he said.

Chief Travers has declined comment. But Mayor Bradley, reached at his office in Hurlock yesterday, appeared unimpressed with the amended suit. "Nothing's different. Nothing's there. It's the same old garbage," he said.

Mr. Bradley, who as mayor has authority to fire or suspend the police chief, said he has kept Chief Travers on duty because he believes the charges are false.

"I'm not having any trouble sleeping," the mayor said in an earlier interview. "But it bothers me to see the town put negatively in the papers when I work hard toward positive things."

He criticized Mr. Walsh for waiting nearly six weeks after the suit was filed to formally notify the defendants. Mr. Walsh, who said a private firm was told yesterday to serve the defendants with copies of the suit, blamed the delay on an unanticipated outpouring of response to the suit from potential witnesses.

The suit alleges civil rights violations, saying Chief Travers fired or threatened to fire officers David Greeley, Martin A. Fisher, Thomas E. Wolf, Anthony A. Glenn and Mr. Nevins for refusing to carry out unlawful activities.

Janill Hill and Donald McWilliams, both Dorchester County residents, claim in the suit that they were illegally detained and searched by officers acting on Chief Travers' orders.

Mr. Hill, who lives in Hurlock, alleges that he was forced to undergo a strip search and inspection by a drug-sniffing dog after being stopped in August 1991. Chief Travers held a gun to his head and threatened to shoot if he failed to tell the truth, the suit charges.

Court papers say Mr. McWilliams, of Cambridge, was falsely charged with defacing police vehicles. He was forced to confess and then ordered to pay for the damage before being released, the papers say.

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