Firefighter Alleges Sexual Assault by Officers After Firehouse Party

A volunteer firefighter in New York is claiming that she was raped in the firehouse by two ranking officers. The plaintiff claims the officers first “plied” her with alcohol and then forced themselves on her.

The suit names former Fire Chief Kenneth Kelly Jr., Captain Josef Seier, 28, the Wantagh Fire Department, and the Wantagh Fire District as defendants. The incident reportedly occurred on January 14, 2022 following a birthday party for Captain Seier.

Quoting from the complaint:

  • On January 14, 2022, the Plaintiff was invited to the Wantagh Fire Department Station #4 for a gathering to celebrate Engine 7 Captain Josef Seier’s birthday.
  • The Plaintiff arrived at the Wantagh Fire Department Station #4 without any alcohol at the request of Defendant Seier and his girlfriend.
  • The Plaintiff arrived at approximately 9:30 P.M., as she had gone directly from her day job to Station #4.
  • Upon her arrival Plaintiff was immediately served and continuously overserved with multiple alcoholic drinks by Defendants Seier and Kelly, Jr. She was encouraged to consume various liquor such as Malibu and “Black Death”, all provided by the Fire District Defendants, who knew or should have known that serving and overserving of female patrons, including female firefighters, in an attempt to make them more vulnerable to be preyed upon by male firefighters, including individual Defendants, was a recurrent ongoing problem at the District.
  • Upon information and belief. Defendant’s Kelly, Jr. and Seier had premediated a plan which included getting the Plaintiff intoxicated to the point where that the Plaintiff would not be able to consent to their advances, and once the Plaintiff was so intoxicated that she could not consent, they were going to take advantage of her impaired state and sexually assault her.
  • During the evening there were many other firefighters at the birthday celebration for Defendant Seier, and all throughout the evening while the Plaintiff was sitting at the bar located inside the fire station’s company room, Defendant Seier would lean into the Plaintiff as well as keeping his hand on her thigh, all unwelcome advances that Plaintiff was unable to fend off due to her continuing to be served and overserved alcohol.
  • At approximately 2:00 A.M., Defendant Kelly, Jr. stated to Defendant Seier that they were going to “wet her like a sponge”, referring to the Plaintiff, and then Defendant Kelly, Jr. began shutting down the party and telling everyone to leave.
  • It was not until the Plaintiff heard the lewd sexual comments made by the Defendants about her, that the Plaintiff began to realize that the Defendants” intentions were to sexually assault her in her intoxicated state as she would not be able to consent or fight off their sexual advances.
  • After Defendant Kelly, Jr. had cleared the Station Company Room of the other attendees of the birthday party, the two Defendants and the Plaintiff were alone at the bar of the fire house company bar. Defendant Seier began forcing himself upon the Plaintiff.
  • Plaintiff repeatedly told Defendant Seier “no”, no less than five (5) times, as well as telling him that “this is a bad idea” while Defendant Seier ignored her and continued to force himself upon the Plaintiff and kissing her against her will.

The complaint alleges assault, battery, negligence, negligent hiring, negligent retention, negligent supervision, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and dram shop liability against the fire department and fire district. The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Here is a copy of the complaint.

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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