Ex-fire­fighter groped, ha­rassed para­medic trainee, law­suit claims

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY DAVID STRUETT, CST WIRE RE­PORTER dstruett@sun­times.com | @dstru312

A fed­eral law­suit claims a for­mer Chicago fire­fighter in­ap­pro­pri­ately touched a male para­medic trainee from Mal­colm X Col­lege while he ate din­ner at a South Shore fire­house.

Ex-fire­fighter Wil­liam Re­gan al­legedly made a se­ries of lewd re­marks be­fore grab­bing the un­named plain­tiff on the evening of June 20, 2018, ac­cord­ing to the suit, filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court July 10.

The stu­dent was at En­gine 126 fire­house, 7313 S. Kingston Ave., as part of his “ride­a­long” train­ing with the Chicago Fire Depart­ment to be­come a para­medic, the suit states.

Re­gan al­legedly asked the stu­dent if he wanted to get into the shower with him and then said there was a pool in the base­ment, the suit states.

“I can teach you how to swim naked,” Re­gan al­legedly said, ac­cord­ing to the suit.

At the din­ner ta­ble, Re­gan then al­legedly put his hand on the stu­dent’s leg and in­ap­pro­pri­ately grabbed him, the suit states.

The stu­dent re­ported the in­ci­dent to other fire­house per­son­nel, who called in at least four bat­tal­ion chiefs who were al­legedly quick to dis­miss the stu­dent’s claims.

“It was just fire­house horse­play . ... He was just play­ing around,” one bat­tal­ion chief al­legedly said.

The CFD per­son­nel then al­legedly threat­ened the stu­dent not to call po­lice, the suit states, but the stu­dent called any­way.

The al­leged cover-up con­tin­ued when of­fi­cers ar­rived, with one cap­tain al­legedly telling po­lice: “This m-----f----- doesn’t know what he’s talk­ing about.”

Other CFD mem­bers then al­legedly told po­lice they didn’t know what the stu­dent was talk­ing about.

In ad­di­tion to the al­leged cover-up of the ha­rass­ment, the suit claims the in­ci­dent is part of a de­part­men­twide “code of si­lence.”

Af­ter the in­ci­dent, Re­gan was fired from the depart­ment and lost an at­tempt in ar­bi­tra­tion to re­cover his job, ac­cord­ing to CFD spokesman Larry Lang­ford, who de­clined to com­ment on the suit.

The city of Chicago is also named as a de­fen­dant. Kathy Fieweger, the city’s law depart­ment spokes­woman, said the city hasn’t been served with the law­suit and did not have a com­ment.

At­tempts to reach Re­gan were un­suc­cess­ful. Since 2008, the Chicago Fire Depart­ment has paid out nearly $92 mil­lion in work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suits, more than any other U.S. city ex­cept New York.

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