Wis. Chief Accused of Sexually Harassing Employee

Aug. 2, 2013
Waukesha's fire chief is accused of telling an employee she needed to quit because he loved her so much, he couldn't focus on getting promoted.

Aug. 02--Waukesha city officials have released an internal complaint that indicates the fire chief broke city rules and sexually harassed a fire department employee.

Mayor Jeff Scrima is asking the city's Police and Fire Commission to fire Chief Jesse Alba, after Alba allegedly told the employee, who also is a close friend, that she needed to quit because he loved her and couldn't stop thinking about her. The mayor asked Alba, who is paid about $110,000 a year, to resign, but he refused.

Attorney Warren P. Kraft was tapped by the city to interview witnesses and compile the 14-page investigative report that was finished July 1.

What he told woman

In March, Alba, then an assistant chief, told the employee she needed to quit because he was trying to focus on a job interview for fire chief, the investigative report says. If she did not resign and he became chief, he reportedly told her he would make her leave, because he thought it was not possible for him to continue work under the circumstances.

In April, he allegedly told her the same things and added that she needed to resign for his sake, so he could try to save his marriage.

The woman did not reciprocate Alba's feelings and did not want to quit her job but told others in the department that she would quit if he were promoted. Alba was appointed fire chief April 18, and the woman resigned June 1.

In a June 6 interview with investigators, Alba admitting asking the woman to quit.

"It never felt like me ordering her to resign," he said, later adding, "I know asking (her) to quit was the most selfish thing I've done."

But Alba also said that he didn't do anything wrong, and that his actions did not rise to the level of sexual harassment.

The city released the complaint during a Wednesday news conference, and later in the day, Alba's lawyer, Victor Plantinga of Rose & deJong, issued a statement that criticized city officials for failing to include all the information Alba gave the city.

"This information discredited the individuals whom the city is relying on to establish these charges," Plantinga said in the statement. "The credibility of these individuals is not 'here nor there' as City Administrator Ed Henschel has asserted in the media."

Hearing date pending

The matter will be resolved before the Police and Fire Commission, which has yet to set a hearing date.

"It is not our intention to try this matter in the press," Plantinga said. "It is unfortunate that the city is not taking this same approach to this sensitive matter."

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