Massachusetts Firefighter Claims Town Failed To Prevent Sexual Assault By Fire Chief

A Massachusetts firefighter who claims he was sexually assaulted by his fire chief, has filed suit against the fire department, the town’s selectmen, and the fire chief.

Ryan Williams filed suit last week against the Kingston Fire Department, the Town of Kingston’s Board of Selectmen, and former Kingston Fire Chief Robert Heath over an assault that took place in 2017. For his part in the assault, Heath is facing one criminal charge of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over. His trial is scheduled for April 16, 2019 in Plymouth County Superior Court.

Williams’ suit claims the town and the elected officials were negligent in their “failure to warn Ryan of the reasonable forseeability that Heath would sexually assault him, as well as their failure to inform Ryan that Heath had a prior history of sexual harassment of others, while in the employ of the Fire Department of Kingston.”

The suit alleges that when Williams reported the assault to police, he was told there have been previous incidents of harassment and abuse involving the chief. More on the story.

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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