Kansas: Ex-Firefighter Sues

A former firefighter with Johnson County Fire District No. 1 has sued the department, saying his immediate supervisor sexually harassed him and discriminated against him.

Richard A. Beseau of Overland Park, who also goes by the name Tony Beseau, filed the lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

Fire Chief Max Sielert declined to comment Friday except to say that the department denied the allegations. He said that Beseau's immediate supervisor, Capt. Kevin Ritter, would not comment either.

Neither Sielert nor Ritter was named as a defendant.

According to the suit, Beseau worked as an unpaid volunteer firefighter from March 2003 until he was hired as a full-time firefighter on March 12, 2004. Beseau resigned July 13, 2004.

In the suit, Beseau said he was assigned to the fire station at New Century AirCenter, under Ritter's command.

Beseau alleges that Ritter made a series of inappropriate comments and actions, including telling Beseau that they could cuddle if he ever got lonely at night.

According to the suit, Ritter asked Beseau whether he worked out by masturbating. On at least two occasions, Ritter allegedly massaged Beseau's shoulders, and after Beseau objected and pulled away, Ritter told others to touch Beseau because he liked it.

Ritter also allegedly asked Beseau if, when he had sex with his wife, he thought of Ritter. When Beseau resigned, the suit alleges, Sielert told Beseau that he should have warned him about Ritter.

Beseau also contends that Sielert told him that Ritter had been written up for inappropriate treatment of employees under his supervision.

Beseau contends that one or more supervisors knew he was being harassed but failed to report it.