Top officials from Philadelphia’s firefighters union and their lawyer gathered at the union hall at Fifth and Callowhill streets on Friday morning to discuss the sex scandal faced by the fire department after a young female paramedic made allegations of sexual misconduct against members of the department.
Union president Joe Schulle addressed the media, reading from a prepared statement about the allegations and the Inspector General’s investigation into them.
According to Schulle, the IG’s report indicates that there were allegations of sexual misconduct against thirteen members of the fire department, and seven of those members are set for disciplinary action. Those members include two battalion chiefs, one captain, one lieutenant, one paramedic and two firefighters. But Schulle stressed that the IG has only provided the union with an incomplete, redacted copy of the report that sheds light only of those seven members facing discipline.
Schulle repeatedly called out the IG’s office for only giving the union a redacted copy, saying that it is a “source of deep frustration.” He said that it is essential that the IG provide the full report because, in part, the union needs to “be able to view the complaint as a whole in order to address systemic issues within the fire department, and to ensure that all members involved are being treated equally and fairly.” He called on the media to pressure the IG to release the full report but then later clarified that he doesn’t believe it should be provided to the media — just the union.
Once the department got wind of the misconduct, they brought the woman into fire department headquarters and “forced” her to file a complaint, according to Schulle.
“She was told that if she did not file a complaint, she would be required to sign a document stating nothing inappropriate had occurred during her career in the department,” he alleged. Schulle claims that the woman asked for legal representation and was denied and that when she requested union representation, she was told that union representation was unnecessary.
There has been no suggestion that the alleged sexual encounters were anything but consensual, and Schulle stressed that there is no substantiation that any sexual activity occurred on fire department property. He added that the department does not have a policy against fraternization.
“Having consensual sex off-duty and not in the firehouse is no business of the department or mine,” he said.
Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer was not immediately available for comment; the Inspector General Amy Kurland declined comment today. The female accuser has not responded to requests for comment on the matter.