By Linda Dillman
The Madison Township story of a police captain fighting charges of making sexual comments/gestures and creating a hostile workplace has come to an end.
On Aug. 14 the Madison Township trustees accepted James Dean’s July 18 letter voluntarily retiring as a township police captain effective July 21 and authorized a settlement of Dean’s lawsuit against the township.
“I will be transferring vacation accruals to another public agency per Ohio revised administrative code,” Dean wrote. “I would like to thank the citizens of Madison Township for the opportunity to have served over two decades in public safety.”
In the settlement, the township agreed to compensate Dean for alleged compensatory, emotional distress damage via a lump sum $35,000 payment in two checks: $5,000 to lawyer Daniel Klos and $30,000 to the former police captain.
Dean was paid all of his accrued leave balances for compensatory time and sick leave as of July 21. His vacation balance was transferred to the Licking County Sheriff’s Department.
The waiver agreement and release of all claims is final and binding.
According to the agreement, “Madison Township shall not withdraw or reverse any prior discipline or demotion of Dean nor shall it alter or amend Dean’s employment records in any fashion. Dean shall be issued a retired captain’s badge and retirement ID indicating retirement at the rank of captain. Dean specifically agrees he will not apply for employment or re-employment with Madison Township or its police department.”
Dean was placed on two weeks of administrative leave on Oct. 18, 2017 as trustees deliberated his status following charges levied by a pair of officers alleging he made sexual comments/gestures and created a hostile workplace.
A public pre-disciplinary hearing was conducted on Oct. 23, where lawyers for both sides presented witnesses and supporting documentation. After a closed-door executive session following the hearing, the trustees voted to continue the administrative leave for two more weeks.
The allegations, as presented during the hearing by outside counsel Christine Corl while interviewing case investigator Erica Probst, included inappropriate physical gestures and comments.
After reviewing written complaints filed by Sgt. Donald Skinner and Patrol Officer Jacob Short on April 12, Probst interviewed Dean and former police Capt. Ken Braden, who was also under investigation. She then interviewed five independent, third party witnesses either in person or by phone, including Township Administrator Susan Brobst, police department staff members, and two more officers.
“During my interviews, it was confirmed that multiple inappropriate sexually explicit statements regarding females, sexual intercourse and women have been made by multiple employees,” Probst wrote in her investigation summary. “The charge (Skinner’s) with respect to the inappropriate and potentially sexually hostile environment has been substantiated.”
However, after interviewing Short regarding his allegations of Dean’s aggressive behavior toward him, allegations that Braden harbors an atmosphere of hostility and retaliation and reviewing the officer’s supporting documentation, Probst determined the officer’s claims were not substantiated.