Facebook Twitter

W.V. to pay $62,500 to settle its part of harassment claim

SHARE W.V. to pay $62,500 to settle its part of harassment claim

The City Council has agreed to settle its portion of a $95,000 civil claim filed by a former employee who said she was sexually harassed by West Valley's former fire chief, W. John Williams.

City Manager John Patterson said the city will pay $62,500 to settle its share of the claim, while the remaining portion will be Williams' responsibility.The city is self-insured through the Utah Risk Management Mutual Association (URMMA), which will pay the claim.

Williams, 50, agreed to resign March 2, shortly after the former employee reported several incidents of sexual harassment to the city administration.

The former chief was charged last week with three counts of gross lewdness, a class A misdemeanor, in connection with the incidents, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Patterson said the woman who reported the incidents chose to leave her city job earlier this month, although her husband continues to work for West Valley City as a police officer.

"She had actually been promoted to a higher position" following the incidents, Patterson said, "but she decided to resign for personal reasons.

"We're sympathetic to her situation - she was the victim here, and I believe she was heroic to come forward with the information."

The city manager reaffirmed West Valley's "zero tolerance" policy on sexual harassment and said the city remains committed to maintaining a non-hostile work environment for employees.

Williams, a former Salt Lake County firefighter, worked for the West Valley Fire Department for 17 years and rose up the ranks to become chief. He held that position for four years prior to his resignation.

A week after the fire chief stepped down, the Salt Lake County Attorney's Office began a four-month criminal investigation into the harassment allegations.

City officials sent a letter asking county attorneys to handle the probe after the victim demanded a criminal investigation.

At the time, a city spokesman said an internal investigation would have been perceived as a conflict of interest since it directly or indirectly involved both of the city's public safety departments.

Williams, a former Taylorsville resident, currently lives in another state but will return to Utah to answer the criminal charges.