Lowell Police sexual harassment case update
Charles Ouellette, the LPD’s director of administrative services, has been accused of sexual harassment by a subordinate.
The complaint against Ouellette, and the city, was filed late last year by “Jane Doe” with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, or MCAD.
Representing Doe is local lawyer Kelly R. Spencer. A telephone message left at her Lowell office was not returned.
To say the five-page complaint is graphic is an understatement. The Column Blog will not report every salacious allegation.
This opening paragraph, however, appears to sum up the complainant’s allegations. “My name is Jane Doe, age 23, and I believe that I have been discriminated against by my current employer, respondent, City of Lowell, and one of its principals, Charles Quellette, on account of my gender, female, which involved severe and pervasive sexual harassment during my employment with the Lowell Police Department sufficient enough to create an abusive working environment and interfere with my work performance.”
The last paragraph in the complaint reads: “As a result of the above-referenced sexual harassment, I have suffered and continue to suffer damages, including, but not limited to, psychological harm and emotional distress, physical injury, lost wages and benefits, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, embarrassment, etc. and if appropriate, compensatory damages for loss of future earning capacity and punitive damages as well as any and all remedies available to me under the law.”
The alleged harassment occurred in August, 2011.
Ouellette, of Chelmsford, did not return a telephone message left at his office. As administrative services director, he oversees the PD’s lockup, records bureau and communications center. He’s been employed at the PD since the mid-1990s. Previously, he worked for the Middlesex Sheriff Department.
His lawyer, Jean Musiker, declined to comment at this stage. If her name sounds familiar in these parts, it should: she is a former Middlesex assistant district attorney under Scott Harshbarger. Also, but more notably, she is the former MCAD general counsel. Her legal fees are being paid by the city.
Police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee declined to comment, as did Solicitor Christine O’Connor.
The city has filed a “position statement” with the MCAD, as has Musiker on Ouellette’s behalf. Those documents, however, aren’t public.
Does that seem right?
“Jane Doe’s” complaint and all its nasty allegations is available for all to see, but rebuttal statements are not?
That just doesn’t seem fair.
Of course, Ouellette, Musiker, O’Connor and Lavallee were all given opportunities to make public statements, but they declined.
The Column Blog has learned through numerous sources that Ouellette’s personal record doesn’t have a blemish. There also were apparently no witnesses to the alleged harassment.
It doesn’t look like the case will be resolved anytime soon, as the wheels of justice at the MCAD turn slowly.
Eventually, the case will go before a hearing officer who has the authority to rule in either party’s behalf. The hearing officer can, for example, reward damages to the complainant for emotional distress, back wages and doctors bills. The officer can also find “Jane Doe’s” case has no merit and toss it in the trash.
Either side can appeal the hearing officer’s decision to the full commission. From there, the case can grind on to the superior court level, even the state Appeals Court.
Ouellette remains on the job. The complainant is still employed by the city, however she isn’t working. She remains out of work, using one of the most lucrative benefits of public sector employment: unused sick time.
Explore posts in the same categories: The Column