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Watseka Police Chief suspended in lieu of administrative charges – Must attend sexual harassment awareness training

Iroquois Co.  (ECWd) –

An allegation of sexual discrimination and retaliation was lodged against Watseka Police Chief Jeremy Douglas and filed with the Illinois Department of Human Rights and the EEOC in May of 2019.

The allegation timeline covers over three years (January 2015 – September 2018), and includes the following allegations quoted from the public record we obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”):

  • Douglas placed his hands inside Complainant’s uniform blouse on and grabbed and rubbed up and down against Complainant’s chest. (Redacted) observed the Chief’s actions and stated that his conduct was not appropriate.
  • Chief Douglas entered the room and told Complainant:, “Stand up so I can look at your ass.”
  • Approximately once a week for a period of six months, the Chief would rub Complainant’s shoulders during the shift change.
  • On one occasion, Chief Douglas placed his face near Complainant’s head and stated, “you smell good..,” Officer Hall observed Chief Douglas and asked, “are you going to smell me next?”
  • From 2016 through Sept.ember 2018, Chief Douglas would rub Complainant’s shoulders approximately every other month. Complainant repeatedly told the Chief not to touch her, but he would not listen.
  • In 2017, Chief Douglas wrongly accused Complainant of sleeping with Officer Vincent Laffon. Chief Douglas further stated to Complainant that when she and Officer Laffon would have sex, he would not call out the wrong name during sex since his wife’s name is also (redacted).
  • Chief Douglas stated to Complainant, “don’t were the yoga pants because the little boys won’t be able to keep it in their pants.”
  • While she was taking notes during an investigator’s interview of a witness, Chief Douglas approached her from behind and placed both of his hands on the sides of her neck.
  • In May or June, of 2018 Complainant attended the wake of Officer Muench’s girlfriend.  At the wake, Chief Douglas commented on how “good” Complainants  “ass looked in those pants,” which was said in front of several police officers.
  • Chief Douglas would ask Complainant at least twice a month “who she was “f—–g
  • On or about September 7. 2018. after enduring monthly panic attacks and constant nightmares caused by the aforementioned conduct of Chief Douglas, Complainant found her working conditions intolerable., which forced her involuntary resignation.

The Position Statement from the City is an interesting read.  Interesting in the fact there is no denial of the allegations but rather explanations as to why the city is not liable and the events not actionable or rise to the level of harassment.

The City entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Police Chief, and it is most interesting.

  • The City will refrain from filing administrative charges in return for Chief Douglas serving a fifteen calendar day suspension. The basis for the suspension will be alleged violations of Rule 5-1, Respect and Disparaging Remarks, of the Rules and Regulations of the City’s Police Department. The fifteen calendar day suspension will include ten working days. Chief Douglas will be allowed to use accrued benefit time for all but three working days of the suspension. Mayor Allhands and Chief Douglas will agree upon the specific dates when the suspension will be served.
  • Chief Douglas agrees to implement and attend mandatory workplace sexual harassment awareness training for all members of the Police Department. The training will be designed to achieve a greater understanding of sexual harassment and the best practices for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The training program must be approved by Mayor Allhands. The City agrees to pay for the training.
  • Chief Douglas acknowledges that it is unlawful to retaliate against any person who makes a complaint or cooperates with an investigation into a sexually hostile work environment. Chief Douglas agrees that he will not retaliate against any person, including any current and former member of the Police Department, regarding any complaint of or investigation into a sexually hostile work environment. 
  • Chief Douglas acknowledges that any breach of this Memorandum of Agreement, future participation in a sexually hostile work environment, or failure to take prompt remedial action regarding a complaint of a sexually hostile work environment within three years of the date of this agreement will result in his removal as Chief of Police
  • The City agrees that Chief Douglas’ willingness to enter into a mutually agreeable resolution of this matter is not an admission of liability or fault on his part.
  • The City agrees to remove any records from Chief Douglas’ personnel file relating to this disciplinary action conditioned upon the Chiefs failure to engage in any like conduct for three years from the elate of this Memorandum of Agreement

We are still working on getting additional records the city claimed were exempt, and while it may take some time, we are confident we will obtain those records and tell the rest of this story.

You can view all the documents we have obtained to date by downloading them at this link or view below.

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7 replies »

  1. Before assumptions are made, all of the attached documents should be read thoroughly. It should also be noted that the “Complainant’s” allegations could not be supported to the extent a law suit could not be filed against the “Accused” or City due to insufficient findings, as noted in the attached documents. Finally, the investigation into this matter was handled by the State, not City, thus the allegations against the “Accused” would have been appropriately investigated, with the appropriate action taken against the “Accused” as deemed by the State. Is the “Accused” 100% innocent in this matter, we’ll never know for sure, however is it our position to make accusations against this individual without knowing the true facts in this matter?

    • Brad you might do well to go back and read the information with a mangifier. It does not say there was insufficient findings as you alleged. There is a semi-colon after the word insufficient; Meaning the next sentence that starts with the word findings is a separate thought.

      And the document you point to is nothing more than the City’s position. It is not a finding of fact by any tribunal handling the matter. As far as claiming we will never know, we plan on ensuring everyone knows the whole truth on this matter and when we get the records the city is hiding I think more of the story will be crystal clear.

  2. With full appreciation of the presumption of innocence – unless proven guilty ( of course this is civil, so it’s only a preponderance of evidence) I say: IF he did this, he should have his ass kicked up between his shoulder blades, he would be a disgrace not only to law enforcement but also to the human race, how would he explain this (he should if guilty) to his wife, kids, family, etc., and finally, he should be made to stand on the courthouse square (does Watseka have a square?) wearing a sign that says: “Sexual Pervert in Need of Mental Health Care”. And, the City of Watseka…wth kind of disposition is THAT? Is there a credibility problem with the witnesses / complainant, etc., OR is the city is so far corrupted that it allows him to continue? This whole case is so offensive – and I’m a male. Was this approved by city attorney, civil rights commission??? ( I did not read the entire file).

  3. Sounds like somebody has the goods on somebody else (or others) so they are treading lightly with the foam pool noodle thrashing. Other jurisdictions would be writing 5 or 6 figure checks about now to the aggrieved party and replacing the violator as they refer charges.

    • Police Chief should not have gotten the position in the beginning. He was not the best for the job but being friends with the alderman, who are also not qualified, gave him the job. This is on the council especially Garfield and Dewitt. How embarrassing Watseka has become to protect this asshat and how terrible for not protecting that young lady from a predator.

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