Fired ex-cop suing city, mayor, chief
A former Columbus Police Department sergeant has filed suit against the city, the police chief and the mayor, alleging he was unfairly fired in the wake of a sexual harassment investigation.
Paul Caraway, who had been employed by CPD for eight years, was put on administrative leave on July 6, 2015, and was fired in November of the same year because of charges of misconduct and dereliction of duty.
A Stillwater County dispatcher accused Caraway of sexually harassing and assaulting her between July 3-6. Caraway was put on administrative leave and a criminal investigation was conducted by the Montana Department of Justice at the request of Columbus Police Chief Bill Pronovost.
That investigation determined that while the assault may have taken place, prosecutors would not be able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt due to serious credibility issues on the part of Caraway and the dispatcher.
The dispatcher subsequently filed a human rights discrimination complaint against her supervisors and the city claiming she had been harassed, retaliated against and that her supervisors ignored her complaints concerning Caraway’s actions. The claim was denied. She is also currently suing Caraway, Stillwater County and the city of Columbus.
In papers filed in U.S. District Court on Sept. 8, Caraway claims he was not given a formal hearing before the Police Commission to contest his suspension and termination and, in the process, “attempt to clear his name, but no such opportunity was provided to him.”
By allegedly not providing a post-termination evidentiary hearing, Caraway maintains Mayor Gary Woltermann and Pronovost “deprived him of his protected right to procedural due process, and did so intentionally or, at the very least, in bad faith with deliberate indifference and reckless disregard of his rights,” according to court documents.
Caraway claims that as a result of those actions, he has suffered a loss of his “employment, a corresponding loss of his wages and benefits, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress, loss of self-esteem, harm to his personal and professional reputation, as well as a loss of career opportunities.”
He is seeking an unspecified amount that would include lost earnings, the value of lost employee benefits present and future, attorney’s fees and “any other and further relief, legal and/or equitable, as the court may deem just and proper.”