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Firefighter's Suit Alleges He Was Groped, Harassed

May 31, 2003|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

A Fullerton fire captain has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming he was groped, harassed and subjected to offensive sexual innuendoes by his boss at work.

Capt. John R. Stokes, who has been with the department nearly 20 years, alleged in the lawsuit that Battalion Chief Eric Newman grabbed Stokes' crotch, rubbed the inside of his leg with a radio antenna and made offensive sexual remarks.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court on Wednesday, said that Newman's alleged actions continued from February through October 2002 despite Stokes' repeated protests. Some of the alleged incidents occurred in the presence of Stokes' co-workers, the suit says.

In one instance, the suit alleges, Strokes was dressed in workout gear when the battalion chief grabbed him in a provocative manner. The suit also contends Newman made a suggestive remark during a fire station dinner.

City officials said their investigation determined that the allegations were without merit. Newman could not be reached for comment.

Stokes filed a complaint with the city on Oct. 13 and Newman was put on paid administrative leave during the investigation. Newman was eventually reinstated in as Stokes' direct supervisor.

Mark R. Haddon, Stokes' attorney, said the city denied his client's claim on Jan. 13, clearing the way for the lawsuit.

Mark Flannery, the city's personnel director, rejected the claims in Stokes' lawsuit.

"The underlying [case] was fully addressed by the city at the time and we believe this lawsuit is without merit," Flannery said. "And we will contest it vigorously."

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