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Paramedic sues Ky. fire department, alleging retaliation after reporting sexual harassment

Crystal Blevins accused the chief and others of inappropriate behavior; Jeffersontown Fire Department said it has taken appropriate action


Image/Jeffersontown Fire Department

By Leila Merrill

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A paramedic has filed a lawsuit against the Jeffersontown Fire Department. She says she faced retaliation after reporting sexual harassment, WAVE reported.

Paramedic Crystal Blevins said that after she took her concerns to the board of trustees, the department hired a private investigator who, she said, focused on damaging her reputation.

Blevins’ attorney, Laura Landenwich, said, “leadership has an outsize influence over new recruits, young women, and has used that influence to coerce them into engaging into sexual acts and sometimes long-term affairs.”

Landenwich said a month after Blevins was hired in July 2018, Jeffersontown Fire Captain Mike Wallingford solicited her for sex and that Blevins agreed out of fear of losing her new job. The lawsuit said Blevins was approached again by the chief and by others.

According to her lawsuit, Blevins asked to be transferred to another station but was told that would only happen if she named names, which she was afraid to do.

In September 2018, Assistant Chief Chris Rader began getting sexual favors from Blevins at the station, the lawsuit states. They never dated. He was promoted to assistant chief in 2020.

Blevins reported Rader’s conduct to the board earlier this year.

Rader resigned in March.

Blevins was suspended on June 6 but was not given a specific reason.

The Jeffersontown Fire Department issued the following response to the allegations on Tuesday afternoon.

“The Jeffersontown Fire Department, its leaders, and its Board, are aware of Crystal Blevins’ allegations. The Department has investigated them thoroughly and has taken what it believes to be appropriate responsive action. It denies that Ms. Blevins has been subjected to sex discrimination or sexual harassment, and intends to vigorously defend itself in this lawsuit.”