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N. Prov. Female Police Lt. Alleges Sexual Harassment by Chief, Inaction by Mayor

Monday, August 01, 2016


A female North Providence Police Lieutenant has filed a petition with the Human Rights Commission - against the Mayor and acting Chief.

A female police lieutenant in North Providence is alleging a “intimidating, hostile, and abusive” work environment in a formal complaint filed against Mayor Charles Lombardi, Acting Chief Christopher Pelagio, and Captain Charles Davey.

North Providence Police Lt. Diana Perez recently filed the petition with the State of Rhode Island Human Rights Commission, alleging unwanted sexual innuendo regarding a female police recruit, an “unsolicited, rude, and abusive comment” by Pelagio, and relation as a result of her complaint -- and is seeking damages for "pain, suffering, and anxiety," as well as back pay and legal fees. 

Moreover, a memo obtained by GoLocalProv.com shows that Perez had contacted Lombardi with her concerns back in April - to no avail. 

“As the president of FOP I cannot sit idly by while members are being treated in this manner. Please take note that these complaints were initiated back in March/April timeframe and are still not rectified. Instead, this officer continues to be out of work due to the stress caused by the incident and the Town’s failure to correct the situation, and no action has been taken as it relates to the Acting Chief or the Acting Deputy Chief that she is aware of.  Meanwhile, the Town is contesting her claim that her stress is work-related,” said Dennis Stone, the President of the North Providence Fraternal Order of Police. 

“Both the Acting Chief and Acting Deputy Chief are both named in her complaint and from my perspective, should not be involved in the handling of her [injury on duty] claim. Please note that a very similar incident reoccurred in CT with Chief Esserman.  He was put on administrative leave pending the outcome of their investigation yet here in North Providence, they both remain in their respective positions while the victim in all of this remains unable to work,” said Stone. 

The North Providence FOP has had two no-confidence votes in Pelagio (including one in February of this year); Stone told GoLocal that the FOP executive board voted Friday to remove Pelagio and Davey from the union. 

Efforts to reach Lombardi and Pelagio did not respond to request for comment on Sunday. 

Memo to Mayor, Complaint with State

Mayor Charles Lombardi

In April, Perez sent a memo to Lombardi with the subject “Inappropriate Comments & Harassment,” and in eight pages outlined her concerns — and referenced a remark she said Pelagio had made towards her.

“Please accept this letter as a formal notification born out of obligation to protect myself from any future harassment. I have recently expressed some serious concern pertaining to the future of this agency and its operations. The recent discussion between you and I on 3/25/16 was a result of an inappropriate and humiliating comment ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie’ made by..Pelagio.”

“While I am well aware of the conversation you had with Acting Chief Pelagio, on 3/24/16, was to deter bad behavior and warn him to improve his conduct, I expressed my concerns to you of him retaliating since the comment made its way to you. I am forced to reach out to you, in writing this time, to make you aware that I am feeling as if I am a personal target of his now.”

Union President Stone offered his assessment of the timeline of events, as presented to him. 

“That complaint, according to this officer, appeared to be a plea for help and guidance during a very difficult time for her. As related by her, the Mayor promised to take action based on the allegations she made.  Despite that, she received no assistance whatsoever from the Mayor.  Because of that, she felt forced to obtain private counsel and file a complaint with the human rights commission,” said Stone. 

The Human Right Commission filing outlines another incident involving Perez, which she alleges was unwanted sexual innuendo said her presence —including in an internal discussion that took place during an interview process, in which Pelagio “continued to comment about [a] female candidate’s attractiveness…with another Lieutenant commenting that the candidate should ‘sit on my lap.”

The HRC complaint, submitted by Perez’ attorney Edward Roy on July 11, states that “as a result of stress and anxiety [Perez] suffered as a results of the actions of the respondents", that Perez has suffered from disabling high blood pressure.

“For all the reasons set forth above, the respondents have subjected Lt. Diana Perez to unlawful gender-based employment discrimination,” wrote Roy. 


Related Slideshow: Police Militarization - Department by Department Breakdown

Below are those fifteen local police departments that have obtained military supplies, listed from least to most items acquired. The list does not include acquisition records for certain tactical weapons and supplies for which the Pentagon has refused to release department-specific data. (In those instances only county-level data has been released. That data is not included below.) Records are for recent acquisitions going back to 2009 and were obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency.

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Items Purchased: 3

Summary of Equipment: Dump truck (1 unit), Snow plow plade (1 unit), Truck and tractor attachments (1 unit)

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West Warwick

Items Purchased: 5

Summary of Equipment: Shotgun barrel (1 unit), Immersion suit (1 unit, can be used for underwater operations)

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East Providence

Items Purchased: 10

Summary of Equipment: Radio sets (4 units), Miscellaneous vehicle parts (6 total units)

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Items Purchased: 12

Summary of Equipment: M84 charging handle (8 units, is part of a rifle)

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Items Purchased: 15

Summary of Equipment: Small arms sling swivel (10 units), Optical reflex units (5 units)

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Items Purchased: 17

Summary of Equipment: Digital computer systems (3 units), Flat panel monitors (10 units)

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Items Purchased: 43

Summary of Equipment: Binoculars (5 units), Ballistic protective spectacles (25 units), Sight mount (5 units)

Photo credit: Stanislas PERRIN

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Items Purchased: 49

Summary of Equipment: Armor Plate (1 unit), Survival vest pocksts (30 units)

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Items Purchased: 70

Summary of Equipment: High capacity rifle magazines (12 units), Ammunition-carrying vests (4 units), Ballistic protective spectacles (20 units)

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North Kingstown

Items Purchased: 72

Summary of Equipment: High capacity rifle magazines (27 units), Small arms storage rack (5 units), Satellite systems navigation set (4 units)

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East Greenwich

Items Purchased: 99

Summary of Equipment: Binoculars (10 units), Ballistic and laser protective spectacles (53 units), Ballistic protective spectables (30 unites)

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Items Purchased: 100

Summary of Equipment: High capacity rifle magazines (100 units)

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Items Purchased: 257

Summary of Equipment: Ballistic and laser protective spectacles (6 units), Rifle bipods (10 units), Field pack (10 units, designed for clothing rations, and additional items like ammunition), Passenger motor vehicles (3 units)

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Items Purchased: 1,604

Summary of Equipment: HMMWV (Humvee) M1165 Assembly Kit (2 units), Gun magazines (432 units), Night vision face masks (8 units), Gun silencers (54), Small arms sight mounts (6 units)

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Items Purchased: 2,389

Summary of Equipment: Armor plates (30 units), Demolition firing device (1 unit), Improvised Explosive Device training it (9 units), High capacity rifle magazines (599 units), Chemical protective suit (1 unit), High-speed tractor (1 unit), Diesel generators (2 units), Flat panel monitors (21 units)


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