Pennsylvania Fire Company Sued over Sex Assaults

A Pennsylvania fire department is facing a federal lawsuit accusing it of permitting a firefighter with a history of sexual molestation to sexual assault junior female members despite department leadership officials being aware of the problem.

The suit filed last week in US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania accuses the West Willow Fire Company of allowing Stanley K. Todd to sexually abuse two junior members over an extended period of time. The suit names the fire company and Todd as defendants.

The two females identified only as S.G and B.O., allege that Todd’s father, Anthony Todd, knew as early as 2000, that Stanley was sexually abusing minor females. Despite this, Anthony encouraged and recommended Stanley to join the West Willow Fire Company where he was “an official”. According to the complaint:

  • Anthony Todd took no action to curb Defendant Todd’s heinous abuse of young girls.
  • To the contrary, Anthony Todd actively brought Defendant Todd into the Fire Company by encouraging Defendant Todd to become a West Willow firefighter and by recommending Defendant Todd to the Fire Company.
  • Anthony Todd took such affirmative acts although he knew Defendant Todd would have access to West Willow junior firefighters as a member of the Fire Company, which would put junior firefighters, like S.G. and B.O., at risk for sexual abuse by Defendant Todd.
  • In the summer of 2009, S.G. told both Anthony Todd and Michael Topper (“Topper”), who was then a high-ranking official at the Fire Company, that Defendant Todd had sexually assaulted her at the firehouse.
  • Topper and Anthony Todd took no meaningful action whatsoever in response to S.G.’s report.
  • No West Willow Fire Company officials reported Defendant Todd to the authorities or took any remedial measures to protect Fire Company junior firefighters from Defendant Todd, a known sexual abuser.
  • As such, Defendant Todd remained part of the West Willow Fire Company, where he was able to continue his sexual abuse of S.G., and was years later in a position to sexually abuse B.O.
  • Finally, in 2015 Defendant Todd was arrested and charged with multiple serious crimes related to his sexual abuse of multiple young girls.

Stanley Todd pled guilty to charges of sexually abusing five females. He is currently serving 10 to 20 years in prison. Anthony Todd and Michael Topper were charged with failing to report the sexual abuse. Charges against Topper were dismissed last year, while Anthony Todd was allowed to enter a deferral program for first time offenders.

The suit contains five counts, 42 USC § 1983 against the fire company for failing to stop the assaults, negligence, 42 USC § 1983 against Stanley Todd for the assaults, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of severe emotional distress.

Here is a copy of the complaint: SG v West Willow Fire Company

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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