UPDATE: Lawsuit alleges sexual harassment by Delmar Fire Department

2/10 UPDATE: The attorney representing the Delmar Fire Department in this lawsuit released a statement Monday morning.

The statement reads “The Fire Department will not comment on the facts of the case or upon the social policies advanced by civil rights laws. The Fire Department will allow a court of law to determine the facts and to apply principles of law to achieve a just outcome. A the Fire Department’s request, the Court has already thrown this case out once. Ms. Molchan has refiled the case in what the Fire Department believes will be an unsuccessful attempt to salvage her untenable claims. Once again, the Fire Department will ask the Court to rule that Ms. Molchan was not sexually harassed, and the Fire Company has no liability to her. The Fire Company believes the Court will apply the law to the evidence to reach the same determination it reached before, and once again throw the case out.”

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DELMAR, Del. – April Mulchan used to be a volunteer firefighter with the Delmar Fire Department, but she hasn’t been back there since 2017. That’s because Mulchan says a person in power there sexually harassed her, and he still works there. 47 ABC spoke with Mulchan and her lawyer, who says this is a case all about inappropriate touching.

“This case is about, at least twice, that a perpetrator at Delmar actually committed what we consider sexual harassment upon April, by physically touching her inappropriately in a sexual manner,” Gary Alderson, the lawyer representing Mulchan, said. “There is a specific instance in 2017 where this individual, who at the time was a high ranking member of the fire department, he approached April, he actually touched her on the buttocks.”

While the Delmar Fire Department did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday, Alderson spoke on behalf of Molchan, saying the situation left her devastated.

“The actual incident itself was very demeaning, very startling,” he said.

When the alleged incident was brought forward, Alderson says the fire department did respond.

“They did bring a disciplinary action against the individual, the committee investigated it and said he should be expelled, and the majority of the members voted for that,” Alderson said.

But when that led nowhere and the alleged perpetrator kept his employment, Mulchan was left disappointed. But that wasn’t all.

“On top of that, this particular individual, they turn around and this year, just three years later, they’ve elected him to a position of high authority in the fire company,” Alderson said.

That, Alderson says, sends a message from the fire department.

“It has to be disappointing and demoralizing to others that have been the victim of this to see that, presumably, the fire company just doesn’t consider this very important,” he said.

But Alderson says it should be a different message coming from the fire department.

“The message needs to be that in 2020, the year 2020, there is zero tolerance for this sort of behavior, nobody should be doing this to anyone else at any time, period,” Alderson said.

This case was originally filed in 2018, but a judge dismissed it saying the instance did not meet the legal standard of being severe or pervasive enough. The judge gave Alderson a chance to amend the complaint, which he filed on Tuesday.

The attorney representing the Fire Department, Robin Cockey, released a statement on Monday morning that read in part, “At the Fire Department’s request, the Court has already thrown this case out once. Ms. Molchan has refiled the case in what the Fire Department believes will be an unsuccessful attempt to salvage her untenable claims.”

Categories: Delaware, Local News