Sexual harassment charges levied against police

WOODBRIDGE - A former police detective has filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, alleging that Police Chief Gene Marcucci, who was not chief at the time, and other members of the force, sexually harassed her and refused to assign her light-duty work after she became disabled.

Lisa Markunas, an officer from June 23, 1997, until her retirement Aug. 1, 2005 filed the complaint against the town and the Police Department Nov. 17 but it was not received in town offices until last week.

In the complaint, Markunas claims that Marcucci and Sgt. Brian McCarthy subjected her to "discriminatory and harassing accounts on account of my gender," and that both men had called her a "bitch" at various times.

The complaint also claims that Marcucci, before he became chief of the department, told her, among other comments, "I never had an affair, but let's make a baby," while he was her supervisor. Marcucci left the department in 2002 while he was serving as assistant chief, taking a job as an insurance investigator. He returned early this year as chief.

Although Markunas voluntarily resigned from the Police Department, she claims that it was under duress and after months of stalling and discriminatory treatment from Marcucci.

Specifically, Markunas claims that the Police Department refused to assign her to light-duty work after she was disabled in February 2004, but granted the duty for a male officer earlier this year under similar circumstances; that it only reluctantly gave her access to her personnel file after union intervention; and that the department still has not paid her for accrued vacation time.

"Throughout my employment, I was subjected to discriminatory and harassing comment on account of my gender," Markunas says in the complaint. The complaint also alleges that she suffered a hand and arm injury during a training session conducted by McCarthy and that when she complained about his training methods, he circulated a petition against her among co-workers.

Marcucci declined to comment through his secretary earlier this week, who also said no one in the department would comment.

First Selectwoman Amey Marrella said she was unable to comment.

"I cannot comment as this is both pending litigation and involves personnel issues," Marrella said.

The town and the department are both named in the compliant. The town and the Police Department have 30 days to reply to the complaint, and after that the commission will determine whether the case has merit within 90 days of the reply.

If the complaint were found to have merit, a full investigation will be ordered, which could take up to a year. Finally, if the town and the department are considered to have engaged in discrimination and no settlement can be worked out, a human rights referee will act as a judge and award restitution, but any decision can be appealed at Superior Court by either party after that.

The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities will determine whether each complaint of alleged mistreatment is credible, usually within 90 days. The commission could determine that Woodbridge and the Police Department pay restitution to Markunas, it could order that both sides agree to a settlement, or it could dismiss the complaint entirely. Markunas' lawyer, identified in the complaint as David Rintoul of the Glastonbury law firm Brown, Paindiris & Scott, was unavailable for comment.