NOTE: This is a slightly longer version of a story that ran in today’s paper, with a paragraph had to be cut from the print version for space:
A second female police officer is suing the Town of Wallkill and Chief Robert Hertman, accusing him of sexual harassment.
In papers filed Friday in federal court, Officer Sally Collazo alleges Hertman started to show a sexual interest in her in spring 2009, pairing up with her at youth events “as if the two were on a date.” The suit also says he had Lt. Antonino Spano call her the day before Halloween in 2011 and tell her to meet Hertman at Starbucks, where the chief gave her several bags of candy, saying, “I was shopping and I saw this and I could not resist buying these for you.” Starting in fall 2011, the suit says, Hertman started to ask her about her personal life and dates she’d been on.
The harassment allegedly came to a head in May 2012, when Collazo asked to be transferred from the Neighborhood Stabilization Unit, and Hertman told her they needed to talk, hugged her and said, “You know you’re my girl.”
The next day, in the police station parking lot, he allegedly asked her to talk with him over dinner, saying, “It’s an order. Business casual and alcohol approved!”
The complaint says that when Collazo rebuffed Hertman, he retaliated by assigning her to foot patrols in high-crime areas, driving by to taunt her on hot days, and delayed presenting her application for work-related disability to the town.
It says Collazo complained to a town lawyer in August 2012, and that in December, town officials told her they had found her sexual harassment claims unfounded but that Hertman would be punished for retaliating against her for asking to be reassigned. He wasn’t, though, the lawsuit says.
Collazo is being represented by Sussman and Watkins, the same firm representing Officer Danielle Garcia, who filed a lawsuit in November accusing Hertman of sexual harassment. That suit is working its way through the courts.
Town Supervisor Dan Depew said Monday that the town hadn’t been served with Collazo’s suit yet, and that he couldn’t comment even if they had been, other than to say that any complaints were investigated.