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Former Columbia firefighter sues city over alleged inaction in regard to sexual assault and harassment claims

Former Columbia firefighter sues city over alleged inaction in regard to sexual assault and...
Former Columbia firefighter sues city over alleged inaction in regard to sexual assault and harassment claims(Associated Press)
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 2:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A former Columbia firefighter is suing the City of Columbia for damages over alleged inaction in regard to claims of continued sexual assault and harassment.

The lawsuit states that he was harassed and assaulted by his coworkers at a Columbia Fire station during his employment and that his supervisors were aware of the situation.

The assault is described, in part, as coworkers holding him down and while he slept and trying to remove his clothes, attempting to corner him in the shower and berating him to show his genitals, according to the lawsuit. The attacks were carried out nearly every shift and often in front of surveillance cameras and supervisors.

According to the lawsuit, there are videos of the inappropriate acts being carried out that show supervisors witnessing the events and laughing and smiling at them.

In early April, the firefighter who made the allegations told his supervisor that he would be resigning due to the incidents. The supervisor is accused of calling the firefighter’s mother and telling her that he needed to turn in his gear by the end of the day or be arrested.

According to the lawsuit, 29 investigations were conducted into the assault and harassment claims, and some of the accused were fired, but not all.

Officials say in the suit that employees at CFD would often refuse to work at the particular station due to the conduct. At least one report is said to have been filed before the ones brought up in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins was aware of the culture for months.

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