Claim of sexual harassment under investigation at Utica Fire Department

Published Mar 7, 2018 at 4:00pm

An investigation is underway into claims of sexual harassment at the Utica Fire Department.

No arrests have been made so far.

Police Lt. Bryan Coromato said that a female firefighter returned to her bunk at the Van Rensselaer Avenue fire station on Jan. 6 and found bodily fluids in the pants of her firefighting uniform.

The firefighter contacted law enforcement and an investigation is underway, Coromato stated.

DNA samples from male firefighters were collected as part of the investigation, but authorities said one firefighter has refused — prompting an appearance in County Court on Tuesday.

The District Attorney’s Office is seeking judicial action to force the firefighter to submit a DNA sample.

Court officials said a decision will be reached on Friday.

First Assistant District Attorney Dawn Catera Lupi said the hearing is part of the ongoing investigation.

She confirmed that no charges have been filed so far.

“While it is not standard procedure to comment on pending ligation, given the significance of sexual harassment, it is imperative the public is aware of
the facts,” said Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri in a prepared
statement.

“It is important the public fully understands the City of Utica, and my administration, have zero tolerance for sexual harassment,” the Utica mayor’s statement added.

“We take all allegations of sexual harassment seriously by thorough investigation, discipline and, when appropriate, referral to law enforcement,” the statement continued.

Palmieri said he directed police to conduct a full investigation once the firefighter made the complaint about the alleged incident.