Kimberly Hatch

Kimberly Hatch was fired by the Ossipee Police Department and filed a lawsuit. (COURTESY PHOTO)

OSSIPEE — The town of Ossipee is denying claims in federal court by a woman who served as police officer until being fired in 2018.

Kimberly Hatch of Madison is suing the town for sexual harassment and discrimination because she is a woman. She is demanding $2.1 million. Hatch worked for the department from November 2012-October 2018.

Hatch of Madison filed her lawsuit March 1 in U.S. District Court in Concord. She is alleging gender discrimination/sexual harassment, and hostile work environment, as well as slander and abuse of process under common law.

Judge Joseph DiClerico Jr. will be hearing the case.

Hatch, 40, is represented by Leslie Johnson, a Sandwich attorney. The town is being represented by William Staar and Brian Suslak of Morrison and Mahoney of Boston and Manchester.

The 19-page lawsuit details examples of alleged misconduct by several officers, including Ossipee Police Chief Joseph Duchesne and Madison Police Chief Robert King, who was a police lieutenant in Ossipee during the period in question.

Perhaps the most serious claim was: “On or about June 2013, Cpl. Justin Swift came up behind Ms. Hatch and Tased her behind the neck,” said the suit. “Then he took a permanent marker and wrote on her forehead while she was disabled” by the tasing.

Staar and Suslak's answer to the suit, dated April 1, raises 10 defenses, including that the town denies "each and every claim" and that the town had "legitimate and non-discriminatory reasons" for the "alleged adverse employment actions" against Hatch.

It denies that Swift ever tased Hatch.

The town is demanding a jury trial.

"Admitted that almost seven years ago, Cpl. Swift wrote a line of permanent marker on plaintiff's forehead, while the officers including plaintiff (Hatch) were horsing around at police headquarters," states the answer.

"Plaintiff was an active participant in the horseplay and consented to Cpl. Swift writing the line of permanent marker on plaintiff's head."  

Hatch had accused then-Lt. King of trying to "take revenge" on the police department's secretary, who allegedly picked on him, by placing a praying mantis on the steps of the garage. The answer said the incident was merely a "prank between colleagues at work."

As to the Sept. 17, 2018, car accident that led to her firing, the answer says Sgt. (Anthony) Castaldo "discovered a piece of her police-issued vehicle embedded in a crosswalk yield sign."

The lawsuit says the firing occurred for allegedly falsifying the report of a minor accident in September 2018 when she was driving a police cruiser, which she said had a blind spot.

Hatch's termination came as a  result of "her refusal to be honest and forthright in her reporting" of that accident, the answer says, adding that the town couldn't buy a new cruiser.

During an interview with Sgt. Castaldo following the accident, Hatch "began crying and stated 'I can't lose my job,'" states the answer. "Castaldo found plaintiff's behavior to be unusual, but it had nothing to do with her gender."

Hatch was fired on or about Oct. 5, 2018.

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(2) comments

BeKind

I agree with Kat. None of these actions would be tolerated in the private sector.

The taxpayers in small town NH need to stop paying for excess officers and start insisting on quality over quantity. The money left over could fund critical social services like social workers to address the impacts of the opioid crisis.

This type of behavior, and the individuals who practice it affects us all, not just Ms. Hatch. It appears that "pranks" like this get those involved promoted, and the subjects fired.

kat44

With 14 officers listed for a town of 4500 what do you expect?

They all have to little to do and the force should have been cut in half a long time ago. This sort of behavior would never be tolerated for 10 minutes in the private sector. Too many cops in one place. All unprofessional. They are all guilty of participating or allowing this behavior to go on in broad daylight. Just admitted "pranks" alone should tell you the low quality and IQ's of all the officers. Not ONE of the men seemed to find this stuff reprehensible, childish and unprofessional. All of it.

Disgraceful abuse of taxpayers.

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