A Fort Worth firefighter alleges she suffered repeated instances of sexual assault and harassment from her former colleagues, detailed in a lawsuit filed last week in federal court, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The unnamed female firefighter, who said in the suit that she served two decades with the department, said two superiors raped her and she faced repeated incidents of sexual harassment by her co-workers. She said she was ignored or retaliated against when she reported the incidents, the newspaper reported.
The lawsuit names as defendants Fred Jandrucko, Bob Lomerson, Kelly Gutierrez, Dustin Lindrop, Bryan Burch and former interim chief Ken Stevens, as well as the City of Fort Worth. A fire department spokesman told the newspaper that some of the men are no longer employees but didn’t specify which ones.
The Morning News couldn’t get a response to the suit from any of the defendants. Two declined to comment, one said he didn’t know about the suit and three couldn’t be reached.
The newspaper pointed out that none of the men appear to be facing criminal charges.
The Fort Worth Fire Department said in a statement that it opened an internal investigation after a former firefighter filed a complaint in June and referred the complaints to the Fort Worth Police Department.
The police department told the newspaper that the employee who filed the complaint didn’t return calls from a sex crimes detective.
“We take any concerns of inappropriate conduct by fighters with the FWFD seriously,” fire department officials said in the statement. “We will continue to investigate these allegations and cooperate fully with the police investigation.”
“Jane Doe” said in the suit she had a seizure that caused a car crash in 2017, which resulted in her being taken off duty and denied her full pension.
Wesley Gould, one of the attorneys representing her, said the conduct alleged in the suit shows a culture at the Fort Worth Fire Department that is unwelcome to women. He told the Morning News the “fraternity-like culture in fire departments has been a barrier and an inhibitor [for women] entering that field.”