More women accuse Oregon fire chief of sexual misconduct
In December 2019, a complaint was filed by a former Dundee firefighter with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI). In it, the female complainant alleged that Dundee Fire Chief John Stock refused to pay firefighters overtime, engaged in gender discrimination and sexual harassment against her, and interfered with her ability to receive medical treatment and financial compensation for an injury suffered on the job.
Pamplin Media Group reported on these allegations in March. After the story circulated on various community Facebook pages, a number of women reached out to Julie Reading of the Portland-based Tedesco Law Group — which represented the original complainant — with similar stories of sexual harassment, discrimination and incidents of groping.
One of the women, who will not be named in this story to protect her privacy, filed a BOLI complaint of her own this month with Reading representing her. The former volunteer firefighter's allegations are similar to those of the first complainant and illustrate a pattern of disturbing behavior from Stock toward female employees and volunteers.
"It was pretty horrendous behavior toward women in general," Reading said. "The atmosphere involved a lot of inappropriate sexual commentary, much of it directed toward the women working for him as volunteers or full-time employees. A lot of these women had a lot of fear of him even when it had been years since these incidents. Some were in other states and were afraid that he'd track them down, find them and hurt them."
In the newest BOLI complaint, the firefighter writes that she has experienced discrimination and harassment from Stock as well as other male employees. She claims a number of fire department and city officials were aware of Stock's behavior and did nothing to mitigate these actions or protect her.
She alleges Stock invited her to his beach house on several occasions, touched her buttocks on two occasions when she was standing on the side of a fire engine and while she was in the station kitchen, and asked about her sex habits.
The complaint also lists other alleged incidents of inappropriate touching without the firefighter's consent, including shoulder massages, back rubbing and touching inside the leg near the firefighter's genitals.
"I reported instances of sexual assault and harassment to Ernie Castro and Lt. Brandan McGarr," the complainant wrote. "However, no action was taken. I determined I needed to leave the station on short notice. McGarr told me that it was not a priority because I was leaving anyway. He also said that if I told people about Chief Stock's behavior, I would not be able to find work at another station because people would think I was a troublemaker and had slept with Chief Stock to get ahead."
Stock, the complaint alleges, would frequently talk about sleeping with other firefighters' wives and girlfriends, joke about the complainant having sex with another firefighter, and tell her that she couldn't handle certain duties because she'd get too emotional.
Stock's behavior, according to the BOLI complaint, created a hostile work environment where this type of behavior was excused and sometimes perpetrated by employees other than Stock. The firefighter says she was called "too sensitive" by McGarr and told to "get over it" when she came to him with the allegations.
Male firefighters, she alleges, would constantly joke about raping and sexually assaulting one another, being sexual with females as young as 12 years old, make comments about women being liars and cheaters, and rate women on a scale of 1 to 10.
One firefighter allegedly told her that she was "a nice piece of (expletive)" and that he would "(expletive) her so hard." She claims she reported this comment to McGarr, but he dismissed it.
A workplace culture rife with sexually inappropriate conduct is the result of Stock's behavior, the firefighter said, and she filed the complaint claiming more than a dozen women as victims of this culture over the years. Most if not all of them, according to Reading, were victimized by Stock and some fear retribution if they come forward with their stories.
The general sense Reading gets is that Stock's alleged victims are reaching out to her law office because they want to see justice. She said Stock's behavior has been common knowledge for "years" in Dundee but nothing has been done about it, save for Stock's placement on administrative leave in March by City Administrator Rob Daykin.
"Chief Stock's treatment of me is part of a … pervasive pattern of offensive sexual conduct including sexual assault toward female firefighters in the Dundee Fire Department going back several years," the complainant wrote. "This pattern establishes a hostile work environment and is known throughout the Dundee community at-large. The city of Dundee has failed to protect me and other female firefighters from this environment."
Officials at the city of Dundee could not be reached for comment by press time Monday morning.
This story has been updated.
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