Orlando Fire Chief Cleared Of Allegations

Orlando Fire Chief Rod Williams has been cleared of allegations that he sexually harassed and discriminated against a female assistant chief. The claims were leveled last year by a 24-year veteran who initially claimed she was wrongly passed over for promotion because of her gender.

In January she amended her complaint to allege that the chief had sexually harassed her. The complaint alleged that:

  • “Fire Chief Williams repeatedly rubbed, hugged and pressed his body against mine.”
  • “There were many times I could feel he was aroused.”

According to an independent investigator hired by the city, the complainant also stated that “For 22 years, every time that Chief Williams saw her, in every meeting, he embraced her a sexual way.

Besides the complainant, the investigator interviewed 25 witnesses, none of whom were able to substantiate the assistant chief’s claims. According to the investigator: “Several employees expressed their surprise and shock at these allegations, asserting that they have never seen Chief Williams engage in this type of behavior.”

The investigator concluded that the harassment claims were unsubstantiated and that there insufficient evidence to believe discrimination occurred.

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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