4 on leave amid Mass. fire dept. ‘sexual misconduct’ claims

By O'Ryan Johnson
Boston Herald

BILLERICA, Mass. — Four members of the Billerica Fire Department have been placed on leave while the town conducts an investigation into “sexual misconduct,” officials said.

“There is a great concern that alleged activities of certain employees within the fire department may compromise the town’s ability to deliver the highest and best level of public safety service to the town and its residents,” Town Manager John Curran said. “There is no evidence that the actual public safety service or calls delivered to this point have been compromised. However, it is the highest priority of the town to ensure that this kind of alleged conduct does not occur in the future.”

Curran said Billerica fire Chief Thomas Conway told him about the misconduct in January. He said he referred the matter to the town’s attorney, who completed their investigation into the allegations last week.

He refused to describe the nature of the misconduct, and declined to comment on whether it was criminal.

Curran said a disciplinary hearing for the four members of the fire department will be held on April 24 and 26.

“I do want residents to know that this matter will be taken very seriously and it will be addressed very seriously,” he said.

Curran said the four are currently on paid leave and their positions are being filled through the use of overtime. He refused to identify the employees, saying it was a confidential personnel matter.

Depending on what is uncovered at that hearing, more members of the department could face discipline, he said.

“Not all officers will be put out on administrative leave, it depends on their level of involvement with any of the alleged activities,” he said.

To make sure this does not happen again, he said, all town employees will undergo sexual harassment training.

The fire department is also instituting new rules regarding visitors to the department. When asked if visitors were involved in the “sexual misconduct” allegations, Curran said the investigation is only focused on the fire department.

He said the department will also undergo a re-organization that will include training for mid-level management.

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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