EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 1, 2007

Methuen finds itself on both sides of sexual harassment case

By Stephanie Chelf , Staff writer

METHUEN - A former Methuen City Hall secretary plans to take her old boss and the city to court on charges of sexual harassment, creating a thorny and potentially expensive legal predicament for the city.

The city is already being sued by the secretary's former boss, Maurice Lariviere, who resigned as city solicitor after police said a hidden camera caught him sexually harassing the secretary, Fulya Metin. Lariviere is also suing the police chief and deputy chief.

Now, with Metin planning to sue, the city finds itself on the same legal side as Lariviere.

Haverhill attorney Marsha Kazarosian said Metin has withdrawn a discrimination complaint she filed with the state and will instead file a civil suit against Lariviere and the city. Kazarosian formally notified the city of the impending lawsuit on June 20.

"It's a compelling case, and a jury will find it compelling," Kazarosian said.

In addition to the two civil cases, there is also an appeals case by The Eagle-Tribune seeking the release of video and audio tapes related to the investigation of Lariviere. In that case, the city sides with Metin in opposing release of the material, while Lariviere supports the release.

All of that puts the city in a "unique legal situation," Mayor William Manzi said.

"It is unlike anything I've seen before," Manzi said. "We're doing the best we can. It's a situation I inherited. We intend to do the best we can to defend the city of Methuen."

City Solicitor Peter J. McQuillan was out of the state and unavailable for comment.

The charges Metin will file against Lariviere and the city include sexual harassment, assault and battery, and infliction of emotional distress, Kazarosian said. Metin will seek compensation for lost wages, damages for emotional distress and attorney's fees.

The case against Lariviere "is very important to her. What he did was wrong," Kazarosian said.

Metin now lives and works in New York and declined to comment, her attorney said. "She's doing as best she can under the circumstances," Kazarosian said.

Kazarosian called the three-sided legal battle "very weird."

While suing Methuen, Metin would likely be asked to testify on behalf of the city if Lariviere's lawsuit goes to trial, Kazarosian said.



"Fulya will do the right thing, whatever that may be," Kazarosian said. "The city has the juggling to do."

Metin filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in 2005 but last week decided instead to take the case to Superior Court.

"The potential may be for a longer (court) case," Kazarosian said. "It's worth the wait."

Lariviere's attorney, William DiAdamo of Lawrence, did not return calls for comment. Andrew Gambaccini, attorney for police Chief Joseph Solomon and Deputy Chief Joseph Alaimo, also did not return calls.

Last fall, Metin settled a workers' compensation complaint with the city for $40,000. Manzi said the settlement was the "correct decision."

If Metin is awarded other monetary damages in the civil case, the $40,000 would be deducted from the judgment, Manzi said.

Police secretly videotaped Lariviere and Metin in his office in February 2005.

Police said the tape, which has not been released publicly, shows Lariviere kissing and inappropriately touching Metin, behavior Metin says was typical during the several months she worked for the city.

In police reports, Metin said she feared she would lose her job if she complained about Lariviere, who was city solicitor for 25 years.

Lariviere says the two had a "mutually affectionate" relationship.

According to police reports, the hidden camera recorded "three separate unwanted encounters" between Lariviere and Metin.

Moments after Lariviere was recorded, he was confronted by Solomon and Alaimo.

In his lawsuit, Lariviere said he was detained by the chief and deputy chief and forced to sign a prepared resignation form.

He said police shut off a tape recorder during the interview and threatened him, while police say Lariviere offered his resignation willingly. Lariviere is seeking reinstatement of his job and payment for lost wages and damages.

Timeline

Feb. 16, 2005 - Police set up surveillance video in the city solicitor's office. They say it catches Maurice Lariviere kissing and inappropriately touching his secretary, Fulya Metin. Police detain Lariviere in City Hall and Lariviere resigns.

March 18, 2005 - Metin files sexual harassment complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination



June 3, 2005 - Metin is fired when she declines to return to work after 14 weeks of paid leave.

June 10, 2005 - A workers' compensation claim is filed by Metin seeking up to 60 percent of her salary until she is well enough to return to work.

July 27, 2005 - Lariviere files civil rights lawsuit against the city, police Chief Joseph Solomon and Deputy Joseph Alaimo, claiming they improperly pressured him into resigning.

September 2006 - City settles workers' compensation complaint with Metin, awarding her $40,000.

Jan. 24, 2007 - New charges filed against Solomon and Alaimo for false imprisonment and deceit are added to Lariviere's complaint following a judge's ruling.

June 2007 - Attorney Marsha Kazarosian says Metin will withdraw MCAD complaint and take the case to Superior Court.

Source: Eagle-Tribune archives and court documents.