A female firefighter is accusing four of her male colleagues of sexual assault. This is the latest accusation to rock the department already embroiled in several scandals.
This year alone, ABC7 was first to expose sexual harassment allegations in the fire academy. In March, an injured D.C. police officer waited nearly 20 minutes for an ambulance because none were available. And just last week, an ambulance carrying a gunman involved in a police shooting broke down on its way to the hospital.
At this early juncture of the investigation, authorities have not named any suspects or filed any criminal charges. Nonetheless, the D.C. Fire Department continues to be haunted by allegations of wrongdoing.
As firefighters from Engine One in Northwest Washington respond to a call Monday, four of their colleagues have been reassigned to off-site desk duty for allegations emerging from inside the fire house.
According to a police report, a female firefighter claims she was awoken late last week to someone touching her inner thigh. She then alleges she saw a few men walking away from her.
District Councilman Tommy Wells, who heads up the committee that oversees the Fire Department, is calling for a full, fair, and thorough investigation.
“This is not acceptable,” he says. “I don’t care where that employee is. Our employees should be safe and respected and if they make an allegation or complaint, it should be handled appropriately. I want to be sure that is has occurred in this case.”
Sources familiar with the investigation tell ABC7 that one of the members reassigned was not accused of inappropriate touching, but instead of not immediately reporting the allegations.
“We have a duty to have a safe, respectful workplace and if that is true then I’ll be sure they’re held accountable,” Wells says.
A fire department spokesperson says the agency is fully cooperating with MPD investigators, but cannot comment due to the sensitive nature of the allegations.
A number of firefighters have come forward in defense of those accused, stressing it is not within their character to commit an act of violence of any kind against a woman.