A deposition from ex-Guilderland Police Chief James Murley’s secretary Linda Dygert alleges current Police Chief Carol Lawlor did not act on sexual harassment claims she made while Lawlor was Murley’s subordinate.
Republican Councilman Mark Grimm said he is calling for an open hearing on the matter, and now that Murley’s case is closed one that led to him playing more than $14,000 in restitution for gambling on town time the public deserves to know the details leading up to his resignation.
`Everybody in town should know about it,` Grimm said. `Where was the oversight? I think we need, at the very least, a full hearing.`
Murley pleaded guilty to misdemeanor official misconduct on Friday, Jan. 9, for visiting an Upstate casino at least 53 times while on the clock, according to information provided by the Albany County district attorney’s office.
Grimm is alleging town officials, including Supervisor Ken Runion, Lawlor and Lt. Curtis Cox, who worked directly under Murley, knew about Murley’s gambling habit and of claims he sexually harassed his secretary, and yet they did not take action.
Grimm said his next move will be to find out how to go about getting a hearing on the matter.
Runion said he was unaware of Murley’s activities, but he said Grimm is too eager to act without knowing all the facts.
`Mr. Grimm didn’t even live in the town during the events,` Runion said. `Mr. Grimm likes to act on rumors and innuendo. When you pull away his hair plugs and take away his makeup, all you have is the air between his ears.`
Runion added that much of the information regarding Murley’s gambling did not come up until after investigations into sexual harassment claims began.
Grimm said the court deposition of Dygert, taken Sept. 28, 2007, brings into question how current police chief Carol Lawlor and now Capt. Curtis Cox handled claims from Dygert.
`Lt. Cox was definitely aware of this situation because I had spoken with him about this,` Dygert said in the sworn statement. `I also definitely spoke with Carol Lawlor about this, but she was no help in stopping the constant sexual harassment.`
`This is a sworn statement under the threat of perjury,` Grimm said. ` I think she’s the voice of millions of women in that position.`
Lawlor said the matter has been closed by the New York State Police.
`I am confident that the state police handled the investigation adequately, and I am not going to reopen this,` Lawlor said.
She said she was speaking on behalf of the entire Guilderland Police Department.
Cox said he became aware of Dygert’s complaints only after the investigation began, and said Dygert did not approach him about the issue beforehand.
`Not to my knowledge. I don’t believe she came to me,` Cox said.
He also said he is available for any hearing the town might have.
`I’m available for anybody at any time,` Cox said, adding he also believed the state police handled the investigation thoroughly.
In the deposition, Dygert claimed Murley had made advances, inviting her to vacation in Martha’s Vineyard with him, as well as inappropriate gestures and comments to her about her appearance.
`He would constantly stare at me and many other females from head to toe and literally drool while looking directly at women’s breasts,` Dygert said in the statement.
Dygert claimed she was afraid to confront him for fear of retribution toward her or her husband.
She also wrote in the deposition that Murley often spoke about gambling at the Turning Stone Casino in the Oneida Nation and one time even asked to borrow money from Lawlor. She claims he took extended weekends, often not showing up for work for days at a time.
Grimm also said he wants to find out how the restitution amount was derived and why the investigation only covered up to 2004, as Murley resigned as chief in 2007.