About that Sexual Harassment Case in Old Lyme

Andy Thibault talked to Old Lyme First Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker about our Freedom of Information request (CT Examiner)


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OLD LYME — On March 19 an Old Lyme EMT quit rather face an investigation for allegations that he verbally and physically harassed a 19-year-old woman. You might remember, I wrote about it. No one else has yet.

What you don’t know, is that a few days later I received this email:

I will preface this email by saying I wish to remain anonymous to avoid a hostile work environment but feel it is imperative to reach out for the safety of women in emergency services. I am not a victim but speaking for my coworkers.

I strongly recommend digging into this incident with tenacity as this individual has an extensive history of sexually predatory behavior towards female healthcare coworkers to include fellow EMS personnel and hospital staff. The town of Old Lyme is without a doubt hiding information by not releasing a name. He has worked for several EMS agencies including New Britain, New Haven, and Meriden part time being told to resign at each one due to sexually inappropriate behavior.

He is also employed full time as a firefighter responding to medical calls as well where he has also sexually harassed female EMTs and paramedics including students training. Several have been too embarrassed to come forward and file official complaints due to the social dynamic of emergency services where females are a minority population. For the sake of women working in healthcare who may encounter him, someone needs to shed light on this or he will indefinitely continue as he has for years around the state. 

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether you find the claims credible or not. It’s admittedly hard to know for sure without at least a little cooperation from the local government. And while I have pretty darn good sources around town, no one was talking. No one.

So, I conveyed these concerns to First Selectwoman Martha Shoemaker, and filed a Freedom of Information request on March 28 for documents on the matter.

And I waited. And I waited.

Finally, after more than a month, Shoemaker’s executive assistant Katie Balocca provided us on April 30 with a single redacted page. Here it is:

Balocca claimed an ongoing investigation — though where in Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law that provides an exemption, and why they redacted the EMT’s name is anyone’s guess. And why take an entire month to deny us?

One experienced source in law enforcement I asked about the matter couldn’t come up with a plausible reason to withhold the name.

And about that investigation?

Since the EMT quit, the Town itself had no investigatory powers. And the local police department couldn’t pursue the matter because of a conflict of interest. The victim was apparently dating a member of the force.

And I waited.

In the meantime, another credible source in town told us that the incident had been videotaped. And a well-placed source in Town Hall with direct knowledge of the matter had confirmed that there was no open investigation into the sexual harassment claims — it’s unclear if there ever really was, or when it wrapped up.

It’s now more than three months later, and facing stonewalling on a separate Freedom of Information request, I had finally had enough. I also had an ace in the hole in Andy Thibault.

I had brought Thibault on staff as a contributing editor to work with my young reporters on investigative journalism, and to write a column. Before joining CT Examiner, Thibault had covered the Boston Marathon bombing trial for NBC news, Allen v. Farrow for HBO, and had sat as a commissioner and hearing officer for the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission.

So, we huddled, decided on a legal strategy, and after lunch on Monday, Thibault and reporter Francisco Uranga dropped into Town Hall for what turned out to be a tense meeting with Shoemaker, and a call with Town Attorney Jack Collins.

How this all turns out? Stay tuned. But I think they got the message.