EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 3, 2013

Auxiliary Police Chief disciplined for sexual harassment

By Keith Eddings

---- — LAWRENCE — Auxiliary Police Chief Jay Jackson was disciplined last year for sexually harassing men he commanded following an internal affairs investigation into several complaints, including one alleging Jackson parked his cruiser under a bridge while on a midnight patrol with another officer and graphically described sexual torture by Afghan terrorists.

“He informed me of their torture methods and one of them happened to be to single out homosexual men and then take gorilla glue and then squeeze bottles and bottles of the glue up their rectum, causing their stomach to explode,” William DeBenedetto Jr. wrote in one complaint on May 1, 2011, after he had resigned from the force. “He then proceeded to question my opinion on the subject matter along with my views on homosexual men. I was immediately uncomfortable with the situation.”

Sgt. Emil DeFusco, commander of the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division, interviewed 22 past and current members of the auxiliary force, including Jackson, after receiving the complaints last year.

The Eagle-Tribune obtained a copy of DeFusco’s investigation after requesting it under the state’s Public’s Records Law. City Attorney Charles Boddy redacted information about how Jackson was disciplined, which the law allows.

Several of the complaints contained whole paragraphs that were the same, suggesting they were written by the same person.

All but one of the complaining officers had been terminated from the force or resigned by the time they filed the complaints last year.

Their complaints were wide-ranging. Besides sexual harassment, they said Jackson failed to provide required training to officers, walked away from violent incidents he encountered on patrol and provided promotions, the best equipment and preferred shifts to officers he favors.

DeFusco acknowledged the sweep of allegations, but said all the complaints had one — sexual harassment — in common. His report addressed only that issue.

Among those allegations, former auxiliary Lt. Chris Cresta said Jackson on many occasions “commented on my “fat Italian (buttocks).”

“Continuous jokes pertaining to the size of (officers’) genitalia, the weight of other officers and inappropriate comments about how muscular officers are and the size of their rear ends,” former auxiliary Lt. Richard Tirado wrote.

“By his own admission, Chief Jackson stated that he did in fact use the language in question during conversations with officers he was supervising,” DeFusco wrote in his report to Police Chief John Romero. “He did so because, incorrectly, he felt in the relaxed atmosphere, that it was appropriate. However, clearly it was not.”

In an interview last week, Jackson said the allegations were made by disgruntled former officers seeking revenge because he had fired them from the force or had disciplined them while they served.

“The allegations were brought by four officers months after they were no longer with the Lawrence Auxiliary Police Department,” Jackson said. He said one was fired and three others resigned at a time when they were either suspended or under investigation for misconduct.

He would not comment on the substance of the allegations.

Romero endorsed DeFusco’s findings, but suggested he is satisfied with Jackson’s performance.

“The auxiliary performs a vital function for the Police Department and Jay Jackson has been a part of that for 30 years,” Romero said.

Jackson joined the auxiliary force 40 years ago and has been chief for 26.