No sexual harassment by D.C. fire department trainers

WASGHINGTON – While D.C. fire department instructors may have acted inappropriately, they didn’t sexually harass female cadets earlier this year, the D.C. inspector general concludes.

The Washington Post reports that a “letter of closure” was sent to D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells, chair of the public safety committee following the investigation that was ordered by Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby and carried out by the fire department’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office.

Earlier in 2013, two female cadets said they were sexually harassed by D.C. Fire and EMS training academy instructors. However, Fire and EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe disputed that the incident was sexual harassment.

“What we believe happened was more some inappropriate language and touching — not of a sexual nature, but the matter made the young ladies uncomfortable,” Ellerbe told ABC7 in February.

Cadets say the instructors made comments about their body parts.

“We took immediate action to remove those members from the presence of our cadets and continued class,” Ellerbe told ABC7. “The ladies have asked that we keep this matter confidential and we’ve done our best to do that until this matter is completely resolved.”

The Washington Post reports the letter to Wells said investigators interviewed all members of the recruit class which included 10 women and 22 men. Six female cadets said they didn’t see or hear any sexual harassment.

At the time the events came to light earlier in 2013, Wells said if he wasn’t satisfied with the fire department’s investigation, he’d bring the matter before a council committee for further review.

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