Sacramento Metro Sex Scandal Case Heads to Trial

A seven-year-old wrongful termination suit arising out of a nasty sexual misconduct scandal is finally headed to a federal jury.

The suit was brought by Fire Captain Mark Thomsen, a 19 year veteran with the Sacramento Metro Fire Department who was assigned to the special investigations (internal affairs) unit. He claims he was terminated in retaliation for refusing to remain silent about a “cover up” of a sexual misconduct scandal, as well as his involvement in investigating a number of other scandals, including one involving bogus college degrees and another involving financial crimes by high ranking department officials.

Thomsen was terminated on March 26, 2007 allegedly because he changed a department record at the direction of a district commissioner.

The sex scandal involved a former female employee who complained about both consensual and forced sex acts involving some fifteen employees. According to the complaint a private investigator hired to assist with the investigation told Thomsen that “the former female employee had been subjected to a series of sexual assaults by a number of District employees, and mentioned that he believed she had been raped, sodomized and sexually assaulted while on duty over a span of several months”.  The complaint states that a union official was allegedly among those involved in the scandal.

Thomsen claims he was given a “direct order” by the Fire Chief to “keep your mouth shut”, and admonished that the case had the potential to “bankrupt the district”.  Thomsen felt that the matter should have been handed over to the police for investigation and prosecution. The woman’s claims were settled in 2006 by paying her $550,000.

The suit was originally filed in state court back in 2008 naming the department, the firefighters union, and ranking officers of each. It was removed to federal court in 2009. The complaint contains 24 counts, including wrongful termination, breach of the covenant of good faith, intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, negligent infliction of severe emotional distress,  civil conspiracy, denial of due process, state labor law violations, and breach of the union’s duty of fair representation.

Here is a copy of the complaint (Amended):  Thomsen v Sac Metro

Here is a copy of an earlier ruling in the case on the union’s motion to dismiss a number of counts. It contains a pretty concise overview of the allegations. MemoOrder

The trial starts this week.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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