Lawsuit accuses former Columbus Fire battalion chief of sexual harassment

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses a former Columbus Division of Fire Batallion Chief of sexual harassment.

The lawsuit was filed by a division ‘cadet’ against the city and former Battalion Chief Joe Richard.

The cadet program is a training internship intended to form a pipeline of qualified, diverse candidates for future recruit classes.

The woman claims on May 15, 2019, she was called into Richard’s office and asked about a knee injury. She said Richard asked to see the knee and coerced her into taking her pants off while she was not wearing any underwear. She said she was then asked to perform an exercise while not wearing pants.

The plaintiff said when she tried to leave, she was touched sexually and threatened with expulsion from the cadet program.

In the days following, the woman said she was followed by Richard and asked for sex.

The lawsuit seeks more than $25,000 in damages.

“It will take a while before all the facts come to light. Until we are well into discovery not much to comment,” said Richard’s attorney, Larry James, when asked for a statement.

Richard resigned from the Division of Fire in October, 2019 after multiple women came forward with allegations against him.

Richard worked for the city for 34 years.

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