Va. firefighter alleges sexual harassment by fire captain

The female firefighter claims that she was reprimanded and reassigned to another station when she told her superiors about the harassment


FAIRFAX, Va. — New accusations against the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department have surfaced after a female firefighter filed a lawsuit alleging a fire captain sexually harassed her.

WUSA9.com reported that the female firefighter claims that when she told her superiors about the harassment by her captain that she was reprimanded and reassigned to another station.

"She complained to her battalion chief, Cheri Zosh, and when Cheri Zosh attempted to take action, upper management stopped her from doing that," Attorney Ellen Renaud said. "He wanted to hug her, he made sexual innuendoes toward her, told her he'd like to see her in a bathing suit; he invaded her space."

The female firefighter said the captain stalked her and was obsessed with her, according to the report. The captain was later given a written reprimand after admitting that he used TeleStaff, a scheduling software, to find out where she was.

"Stalking and everything he did warrants much more than a written reprimand because he's continuing to stalk her," Renaud said.

In the weeks since Nicole Mittendorff's suicide, several female firefighters from the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department have contacted Renaud.

Chief Richard Bowers said the department is conducting an internal investigation into claims that Mittendorff was bullied online.

"If you want to root it out of the fire department, you need to have a true, no nonsense, zero tolerance, that no officer can engage in sexual harassment and continue as an officer," Renaud said.

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