Leaders failed troubled Philly medic in sex scandal, sources say

Her mental instability was well-known, and fire officials are accused of bouncing her around to various firehouses instead of getting her help


By Dana Difilippo
Philadelphia Daily News

PHILADELPHIA — After a firefighter killed himself in September 2011 and another attempted suicide last year, a cloud of grief hung over the redbrick firehouse in Ogontz where Engine 51, Ladder 29 and Medic 18 are stationed.

Yet that's where Philadelphia fire officials sent a troubled young paramedic not long after her second suicide attempt, sources say.

Such insensitivity helped throw an already vulnerable woman into deeper instability, those who know her say.

The paramedic, whom the Daily News is not naming because of the nature of the allegations, is now at the center of a sex scandal that has gotten national headlines.

The city Inspector General's Office investigated and recommended disciplinary charges against seven firefighters, including battalion chiefs Richard Bossert and James Reinninger; fire Capt. Robert Taylor; fire Lt. Albert Saunders; paramedic Patrick Carey; and firefighters Theodore Speights and Joseph Taylor.

Joe Schulle, the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22, declined to comment on any of their cases, saying: "I'm disappointed [their names are out there]. They haven't been convicted of anything, and their names are being aired out in the media without having a chance to defend themselves."

The Daily News was unsuccessful in reaching the men for comment.

The paramedic began having problems with unwanted sexual encounters as soon as she joined the Fire Academy in 2011, sources said.

Since then, she had been a reluctant participant in countless coerced liaisons, some of which her colleagues captured with cameras and shared without her permission, sources said.

In at least one instance, she was filmed nude, barking as she was led around a firehouse on a leash attached to a dog collar, a source who viewed the video told the Daily News. In another, several men coerced her into sexual acts in an ambulance, sources said.

The scandal boiled into the open last spring.

Officials demanded that the paramedic reveal the identities of her sexual partners or face being fired, sources said. Scared of losing her job, she gave up names - and then hired lawyers, who filed harassment and retaliation complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sources said.

One of her attorneys, Laura Mattiacci, declined to comment on the case yesterday, saying only, "when it comes to maintaining a fair workplace, abuse of power by those in positions of authority can never be tolerated."

Sources say the paramedic's mental instability was well-known, especially after she shot herself in the leg in 2012 and then walked into the Schuylkill early last spring in firefighter gear in a failed suicide try.

She also allegedly threatened to drive an ambulance into a wall last year after a colleague ridiculed her, according to a source who knows her.

As problems followed her, fire brass bounced her around to various firehouses instead of getting her help, sources said.

"How they treated her was completely wrong," an acquaintance said. "She needs help."

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©2015 the Philadelphia Daily News

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