Howard hired former officer disciplined in harassment case Then-Chief Robey says he did not know background

October 20, 1998|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

A former Baltimore County police officer who was disciplined for an incident that allegedly involved harassing a female job applicant was hired by the Howard County Police Department last year to interview prospective employees.

The then-police chief, James N. Robey, now Democratic candidate for Howard County executive, said he didn't know the background of Steven J. DeBoy Sr. before he was given a contract to conduct background investigations last fall. But he said others knew of the 1989 incident and decided it did not disqualify him.

"I wish they had made me aware of it," Robey said, though he said he might have hired him anyway.

DeBoy, a Democratic candidate for House of Delegates in District 12, said he "was completely up front" with Howard police officials. He said he made an inappropriate gesture to a female officer and was disciplined with a transfer from the department's Applicant Investigation Unit to patrol.

The female officer's 1990 federal lawsuit alleged mistreatment after DeBoy was disciplined. She claimed that he also made an offensive remark to her and suggestive remarks about a female job applicant during the incident, which DeBoy denies. The suit was settled in 1991 for $245,000.

"I'm not proud of it, but I moved on. That was my only blemish in my 20-plus year police career," he said.

Though the Howard department has not responded to a public records request about how DeBoy's application was handled, Robey said yesterday he did not sign the papers hiring him. He said Maj. Mark Paterni, acting as chief while Robey was on vacation, approved DeBoy; Paterni was unavailable for comment yesterday.

DeBoy intimated that Republicans have spread information of the incident to undermine his candidacy: "It's unfortunate that people have to try to pass this kind of information, because I don't think it has any bearing on my ability to be a background investigator for Howard County, nor do I think it has any bearing on my candidacy for the House of Delegates."

Pub Date: 10/20/98

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