Firefighter Accuses Fire Chief of Sexual Assault and Harassment

An Ohio firefighter has filed a federal lawsuit accusing her fire chief of sexual assault and harassment. Rebekah Huskey claims that Port Clinton Fire Chief Kent Johnson engaged in longstanding pattern of harassment dating back years. Chief Johnson was placed on administrative leave on June 6, 2023.

The 38-page complaint provides shocking details about the alleged behavior Huskey was subjected to. The allegations include physical touching, kissing, hugging, groping and grinding in addition to inappropriate comments, text messages, and unwelcome visits to her home when her fiancé (also a Port Clinton firefighter) was known to be at work. Huskey also accuses the chief of wrongly denying her workers comp for a line-of-duty back injury she suffered, reassigning her as his “personal secretary” upon her return to duty, and removing or destroying her training records to make it harder for her to recertify.

Quoting from the complaint:

  • When Ms. Huskey was visibly pregnant in about July 2021, she was pouring herself a cup of coffee in the office when Johnson came behind her and forcefully grabbed her butt-cheek.
  • In about July 2022, Chief Johnson called Ms. Huskey into his office ostensibly to show her a new ambulance he claimed to be buying for her.
  • When she walked into his office, she noticed he had moved his computer to the right edge of his desk, so it was no longer in front of his chair.
  • Johnson requested she come around to the back of the desk to look at his computer. He proceeded to discuss the details of the ambulance.
  • Then, Johnson pushed his chair back from the desk and ran his hand from Ms. Huskey’s calf, up her leg, toward her vagina. She smelled alcohol in Defendant Johnson’s breath.
  • She jumped away from Defendant Johnson and shouted, “What the fuck!”
  • He tried to approach her again, but she shoved him back in his chair.
  • He had a noticeable wet spot on his pants.
  • The next day, Defendant Johnson texted Ms. Huskey that he felt “like a pedophile.”
  • On or about August 15, 2021, Chief Johnson texted Huskey about the bay lockers behind the ambulance, stating he cleared out a spot near the lockers for the fire-prevention equipment she was organizing.
  • During her next shift, Chief Johnson insisted he show her the space he cleared near the
  • lockers. She feared for her safety because of his escalating sexual behavior toward her but Chief Johnson insisted he show her.
  • After Chief Johnson showed her the space, he pushed her face first into the lockers, with her hands on the doors. He gripped her shoulders and pushed his groin into her. He began grunting and rubbing her back and buttocks.
  • Ms. Huskey was frozen with fear. And she did not reciprocate.
  • While he groped her, Johnson made comments like, “I am crazy about you” and “I would love to try your cream.”
  • When he stopped, he kissed the back of her head and her shoulder.
  • Over the course of Chief Johnson’s persistent harassment and assaults, Ms. Huskey would discover her underwear and socks missing from her locker.
  • When she told Defendant Johnson about the missing garments and said she would put a lock on her locker, he warned her not to do so.
  • Obsessed with Ms. Huskey, and as part of his campaign of harassment, Johnson was taking and keeping her underwear and socks for his own prurient, fetishist use.

The suit alleges civil rights violations, numerous state law statutory claims, assault, battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Here is a copy of the complaint.

Case update: October 4, 2023: ABC13 article.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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