Chicago firefighter fired for sexually harassing paramedic student on ride-along

The student immediately complained to her parents and police after the firefighter allegedly made lewd comments and touched her during dinner at the firehouse


John Byrne
Chicago Tribune

A Chicago firefighter was fired after a City Colleges student said he touched her inappropriately and harassed her while she was at a firehouse for a ride-along as part of her training to become a paramedic, according to the city watchdog.

The student immediately complained to her parents and police after the firefighter made lewd comments and touched her during dinner at the firehouse, Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said in his quarterly report. The firefighter was charged with misdemeanor battery but acquitted by a judge in a bench trial early this month.

The Fire Department nonetheless fired him and put him on the do-not-hire list.

The incident was one of several investigations Ferguson’s office detailed in his report.

It also says three operators at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications used days off through the Family and Medical Leave Act to take a July 2017 Caribbean cruise together. Far from experiencing the medical difficulties they described to get the time off, the three operators “consumed alcohol, went to numerous restaurants, attended night clubs, toured Caribbean islands, went horseback riding, rode jet skis, and even went on a ‘booze cruise.’”

Another operator took Caribbean cruises in 2014 and 2017 using falsified FMLA paperwork. Three operators were fired, and the fourth one resigned, according to Ferguson.

Another investigation led to a written reprimand against a paramedic who Ferguson’s office found used excessive force against a patient by twisting the person’s head and pushing it against a wall.

And Ferguson recommended training for all aldermen after one improperly tried to influence discipline against a Water Department employee by asking during a meeting whether the department “was obligated to follow disciplinary recommendations,” according to the inspector general’s office.

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©2019 the Chicago Tribune

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