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What you need to know for 06/23/2017

MOSA officials accused of harassment

MOSA officials accused of harassment

A Schoharie County woman alleges that her former superior at the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid W

A Schoharie County woman alleges that her former superior at the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority threatened her with a knife when she broke off a relationship with him after she contracted a sexually transmitted disease.

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To read the entire civil complaint, click here.

Carol A. Ostrowski filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging “unconstitutional and tortuous discrimination, harassment and retaliation” by both Glenn Packard, MOSA’s director of operations and safety, and Gilbert Chichester, MOSA’s executive director.

Packard was a Schoharie County sheriff’s deputy for 14 years, leaving at the rank of sergeant in 2003 to fill the safety officer post for Schoharie County. It was unclear Friday exactly when Packard was hired by MOSA.

MOSA is a public authority created in 1987 to dispose of trash on behalf of the three counties. Its operations are governed by a board of seven volunteers and staff work under the direction of Chichester.

The lawsuit alleges that Chichester treated Ostrowski differently from other employees, making her take leave from her job on her own time while telling Ostrowski to “destroy Glenn Packard’s leave slip because as long as he so much as thought about MOSA off hours, he did not have to take leave time,” the suit states.

It further alleges that Ostrowski, who was employed as an accountant from November 2006 until August 2007, had to use leave time to attend her father’s funeral.

The lawsuit alleges that Chichester “required [Ostrowski] to work late after hours and on weekends, although he did not require such action by similarly situated male employees.”

The suit states that “Chichester treated [Ostrowski] differently than similarly situated male employees in terms of job duties and responsibilities, lack of compensation, denial of leave time and discipline due to the plaintiff’s gender.”

Chichester declined to comment Friday on the suit and said MOSA’s insurance company would handle it. Chichester said he did not know the name of the insurance company, and he said nobody would be able to comment. He refused to put a reporter in touch with Packard, who works in the same office building with him in Howes Cave.

The lawsuit describes alleged events of Feb. 14, 2007, when all MOSA employees but Packard and Ostrowski went home early because of a snowstorm.

“Packard used this opportunity to sexually harass [Ostrowski] by hanging on her, leaning over her at her computer,” the lawsuit states.

Packard is accused of leaving notes at her desk, including pictures of flowers, and telling her that since he met her, he “had been thinking about cheating on his girlfriend.”

Allegations in the lawsuit also suggest that Packard, who held supervisory power over Ostrowski, told her that factors including the death of her father, divorce proceedings and Chichester’s attitude toward her meant that Ostrowski “needed Packard in her corner.”

The sexual relationship between Ostrowski and Packard, according to the suit, began in March 2007 when around 7 one evening, Packard “insisted that [Ostrowski] come over and sit on his lap if she wanted to keep her job. Packard coerced plaintiff into having a sexual relationship with him,” the lawsuit states.

Ostrowski in the suit claims that Packard assured her that he did not have any sexually transmitted diseases but says that in July 2007, she “became ill and learned from her doctor that she had just contracted a sexually transmitted disease.”

The suit claims that Packard threatened Ostrowski, telling her she would be “very sorry” if she told anybody about the relationship or the STD.

On Aug. 24, 2007, the lawsuit states that Packard told Ostrowski she was “wearing a nice skirt,” and then he “put a knife in [Ostrowski’s] face and told [Ostrowski] that even if she says no, he can use a knife to cut plaintiff’s stockings off and have sex with her that way.”

After that encounter, the lawsuit states that Packard told Ostrowski he’d be working late and he told her to “go home and freshen up and return to his office to have sex with him if she wanted to keep her job at MOSA.”

Ostrowski refused, according to the suit.

Five days later, she was fired.

The lawsuit also alleges that Ostrowski told one member of the MOSA governing board about being treated differently prior to her termination. After she was fired, the suit alleges, she told a board member about the sexual harassment.

Packard has remained in his post ever since, and it was unclear Friday whether that unidentified MOSA board member ever took any action to investigate the complaint.

MOSA board Chairman Ed Wesnofske could not be reached for comment Friday. Board members Olga Podmajersky and John Thayer declined to comment.

According to the lawsuit, Ostrowski also filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights. The lawsuit states that the Division of Human Rights issued a “determination of probable cause after investigation” but the case was dismissed at the request of Ostrowski’s attorney so they could pursue the federal civil rights lawsuit.

Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was made aware of the allegations and in July issued a “right to sue letter.”

It was unclear Friday if any criminal charges were ever lodged as a result of these complaints. Schoharie County District Attorney James Sacket did not return a call seeking information.

Ostrowski is seeking unspecified damages.

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