Stalker with a Badge?
Plainfield Police Chief Gary Sousa
`It Is Absolutely Shocking'
Plainfield Police Chief Of 25 Years Accused Of Sexual Harassment In Internal Affairs Report
January 26, 2007
By LYNN DOAN, Courant Staff Writer
PLAINFIELD [Connecticut] -- The chairwoman of the police commission, shocked by a report accusing longtime Police Chief Gary Sousa of sexually harassing three town employees, said Thursday that she would be "thrilled if he resigned and saved the town more embarrassment."
The chairwoman, Jackie Dubois, who said she long suspected that Sousa had behaved inappropriately after a night of drinking two years ago, was taken aback by the extent of the sexual harassment allegations.
According to the 137-page report by the police department's internal affairs office, three women - the town clerk, the town bookkeeper and the former assistant to the first selectman - worked in fear as Sousa continually sexually harassed them, intimidated them and, in two cases, pulled them over with his police cruiser.
"It is absolutely shocking," Dubois said. "Now that the facts are out there, any reasonable person that reads it, I'm sure, will do the right thing. I would be thrilled if he were to resign."
The report was released this week to police commission members, some of whom refused to comment on the findings. The commission is scheduled to meet in closed session today to discuss the report and possibly take action, which could include Sousa's termination.
Dubois said she had heard reports that Sousa, who is married, had stepped out of line one summer night in 2005, when a group of town employees gathered for drinks at a local restaurant. Jodi Benson, assistant to the first selectman at the time, told a co-worker that Sousa followed her into the ladies restroom and blocked her way out, the report said. Sousa then grabbed her breasts, saying, "You know I've been wanting to sleep with you."
The incident was just one of several cited in the report written by Deputy Police Chief Robert J. Hoffman after interviewing 23 town employees.
Sousa, 58, who has served as the town's police chief for 25 years, is accused in the report by several town officials and employees of constantly calling and visiting the women. At one point, Town Clerk Louisa Trakas said in the report, she was fielding up to 10 calls a day from Sousa, who was also visiting her in her office daily.
"He started kissing my hand and I told him my husband wouldn't like that," Trakas said in the report.
After Sousa hinted that he was going to kiss her at a town-hosted Christmas party, Trakas said she told him she felt uncomfortable with his advances. It was then, she said, that Sousa "took up with" Dodie Mineau, the town's bookkeeper.
"It really made [Mineau] distraught and she was in tears all the time, she was a wreck," Trakas said.
According to the report, Sousa then began spending hours in Mineau's office and insisted, on at least one occasion, on escorting her to her car after a meeting.
Both Benson and Trakas said they were intimidated by Sousa because of his position - and his gun.
Trakas said in the report that Sousa often hit his gun holster and said, "If you hear this noise, hit the ground." Benson also told a co-worker that Sousa had pulled her over in his police cruiser after she failed to meet him at a hotel for sex.
"She told me she was scared to death. ... That she feared for her safety because he was pissed," the co-worker said in the report.
The three women either would not comment on the allegations or could not be reached Thursday.
Prompted by complaints filed against Sousa by three residents - George Krecidlo, David Ertsgard and John Dubois, the husband of Jackie Dubois, the internal affairs report found that Sousa committed 10 violations as police chief. The violations include: insubordination, conduct unbecoming an officer, undue influence and arrogance, oppression or tyranny. Hoffman said the chief was insubordinate because he contacted people involved in the investigation after the police commission had ordered him to stay away from them. The department has 27 full- and part-time employees.
The residents who filed complaints said they were concerned that Sousa was tainting the investigation because his telephone records show that he had been contacting those involved.
Sousa, who declined to comment for this story, has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying town officials are only trying to punish him for backing former First Selectman Don Gladding. Gladding lost a Democratic primary in November 2005 to current First Selectman Kevin Cunningham.
"It's laughable. It is just absurd," Cunningham said of Sousa's charge. He said he launched the investigation into the sexual allegations after town employees approached him. "It was me doing my duty."
Contact Lynn Doan at email@example.com.
A discussion of this story with Courant Staff Writer Lynn Doan is scheduled to be shown on New England Cable News each hour today between 9 a.m. and noon.
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