New York Firefighter In Sex Scandal Petitions Court To Get Job Back

NEW YORK (AP) -- A firefighter who was axed after he refused to discuss with investigators accusations that he and two others had sex with a woman in a Bronx firehouse has gone to court to try to get his job back.

Christian Waugh, 31, says in court papers that he was fired because, on his lawyer's advice, he invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination and refused to answer questions without complete immunity in a hearing on Aug. 25, 2004.

The other two firefighters, Tony DeLuca, 35, and Anthony Loscuito, 27, have been suspended and are awaiting disciplinary action, says a 28-page report released last month by the commissioner of the Department of Investigation.

The DOI hearing at which Waugh appeared was part of an investigation of charges by a woman who said that early on Aug. 20, 2004, she was admitted to the Engine Co. 75/Ladder Co. 33 firehouse, where she had sex with several firefighters.

Waugh's court papers say the woman's story about whether the sex was forcible or consensual changed ``a number of times.'' At the time of the DOI hearing, the woman was claiming she was forced while visiting the station, nicknamed the ``Animal House.''

The woman filed a notice of claim indicating she intended to sue the city because she was allegedly ``restrained against her will, sexually sodomized, raped'' and ``severely injured'' during the incident.

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson declined to file charges in the case after a separate investigation.

The accusations were widely publicized, and police collected DNA evidence. Though police had not charged Waugh with anything, it was against the backdrop of the criminal investigation that he refused to talk without total immunity, his court papers say.

Waugh's papers say he was offered only use immunity, meaning nothing he said during the hearing would be used against him. His papers say he should have been given transactional immunity, which would have totally immunized him against prosecution in the firehouse sex case.

``The threat of criminal prosecution against petitioner (Waugh) _ who did not commit any sexual offense _ was very real,'' says Waugh's petition, which was filed Tuesday in Manhattan's state Supreme Court.

Federal case law bars public employees from being forced into ``a choice between surrendering their constitutional rights or their jobs,'' Waugh's court papers say.

Waugh, fired Dec. 3, 2004, asked the court to restore him to his job with back pay and benefits or remand the case to the Fire Department of New York and direct imposition of a lesser penalty.

The fire department on Wednesday was unaware of the filing of Waugh's papers, a spokesman said.