Harassment suit filed against Aberdeen chief Damages totaling $3 million sought

October 16, 1993|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Staff Writer

An employee of the Aberdeen Police Department alleges in a lawsuit that Chief John R. Jolley, her former boss, "continuously" subjected her to sexually suggestive and lewd comments during the four years she served as his personal secretary.

In the 10-page suit filed this week in Harford County Circuit Court, Vickie L. Horne contends that "these comments and this behavior occurred in the workplace on numerous occasions and often in front of co-workers and other witnesses."

The suit, which seeks $2.5 million in damages from Chief Jolley and $500,000 from the city of Aberdeen, alleges that the chief, in the presence of a witness, said he "wanted to put a sign in the office stating that 'sexual harassment is not only encouraged but evaluated.' "

Mrs. Horne alleges that her civil and constitutional rights have been violated.

The suit comes on the heels of two investigations of Chief Jolley by Maryland's state prosecutor.

The probes have brought calls for Chief Jolley's resignation and prompted the city administrator to suspend the chief for five days, make him forfeit 10 days pay and deny him his next scheduled pay raise.

The first investigation, concluded in July, found that Chief Jolley had misappropriated public money and illegally voided dozens of parking and traffic tickets.

The second probe involved allegations that Chief Jolley assigned Mrs. Horne, who has no police training, to investigate a criminal case and that the chief took for his personal use a pornographic videotape seized as evidence during that investigation. The second probe by State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli has not been completed.

Chief Jolley declined to comment on the specific allegations, but he said the suit was in response to Mrs. Horne's recent removal as his secretary. "No question whatsoever," he said.

H. Edward Andrews III, an attorney representing Mrs. Horne, denied that the suit was in retaliation for her recent transfer.

"Since 1989, she has been terrified of the chief," Mr. Andrews said.

As of Sept. 27, Mrs. Horne has worked as secretary to the department captain in charge of patrol.

After Mr. Montanarelli's second investigation became public, the chief attempted to transfer Mrs. Horne to the city's wastewater treatment plant, but that move was stopped by Mayor Ruth Elliott.

In her suit, Mrs. Horne alleges that Chief Jolley stated that he hired her "expressly because of her physical appearance, specifically her breasts."

The suit also describes several examples of alleged comments Chief Jolley made to or about Mrs. Horne.

It alleges that he suggested that Mrs. Horne appear at a golf outing in a "wet T-shirt in order to distract the other players."

The suit also alleges that the chief stated that Mrs. Horne was the model for a "suggestive" cake made for a birthday party for a male officer.

The suit says Aberdeen government officials were aware of the alleged harassment because it was "pervasive and obvious." Despite this knowledge, the suit says, officials took no action.

Mayor Elliott declined to comment, saying she needed to review the suit.

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