Letters detail sexual harassment accusations against Columbus Fire battalion chief

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Joe Richard remains on administrative leave amid allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Multiple women have come forward with allegations against Richard who supervised the division’s Recruitment Office.

NBC 4 has obtained written statements that were submitted to the Department of Public Safety by three of the female accusers who worked with Richard.

One describes that as soon as she started working in the office, “the staring and sexually suggestive looks began and have continued ever since.”

She writes that “Chief Richard has made lewd jokes, sexual anecdotes and made sexual comments about my appearance and my body parts.”

Richard has worked for the city for 34 years. 

When the allegations first surfaced earlier this month, Richard was re-assigned to a fire station.

In another of the written statements, an accuser wrote that allowing Richard to simply be reassigned would be an injustice. “He failed to protect life safety by putting myself and the other women in harm’s way, by preying on us, manipulating us, sexually assaulting us, verbally as well as physically for myself,” she wrote. “I motion for him to be removed, his mess to be shutdown, maybe even label him a sexual deviant so women can see him a mile away.”

Richard was subsequently placed on administrative leave and the allegations were referred to Columbus Police.  A spokesman says the police Special Victims Bureau is investigating to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

NBC4 was unable to reach Mr. Richard for comment.

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