Former Leduc fire chief named in lawsuit as more Leduc employees make sexual assault allegations

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Former Leduc fire chief named in lawsuit involving sex assault allegations
WATCH: The former chief of Leduc Fire Services has been named in a statement of claim against the City of Leduc which was amended to add more allegations of sexual assault. Breanna Karstens-Smith reports – May 11, 2022

George Clancy has now been named in a statement of claim filed against the City of Leduc. The claim says that in December 2005, Clancy, who was a deputy chief at the time, walked into Christa Steele’s office, told her, “you have pretty lips,” and tried to touch her face and neck.

The claim goes on to allege Clancy pinned the female firefighter against the wall and tried to kiss her neck.

The revelations were made as part of amendments made to the statement of claim originally filed in February.

Thirty-three pages outline what the plaintiffs say was decades of systemic sexual assault, harassment and bullying within the Leduc fire department.

Clancy resigned in March following the initial claim. He cited health reasons but defended the department, calling it “fair and equitable to all.”

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He is not being sued, with only the City of Leduc listed as a defendant.

The city has not filed a statement of defence and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

More than firefighters

The changes to the claim also include the first allegation from an employee from a different city department.

A woman, named T.L. in the lawsuit, worked in the City of Leduc operations department in 2014.

She claims in the document that in July 2014, a “co-worker sexually assaulted her by coming up behind her and grabbing her between the legs.”

T.L. says she reported that to the city and human resources. While she waited for a response, she says she and female co-workers came up with a code word to warn one another when the man was around.

Eventually, the man was moved to another department.

“When T.L. initially tried to go public with her experiences, she was contacted by Leduc and told that she should keep her opinions to herself,” the statement of claim reads.

“Firefighters were always employees with the City of Leduc,” Robert Martz, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, pointed out.

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“But having an employee who is outside of the fire department in our view, goes towards the allegations that this was systemic and went beyond simply the fire department and was a problem with the entire city,” Martz said.

Martz said that in the past months since the original draft was filed, women both within Leduc and from across Alberta have contacted him.

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“I’m reluctant to speak too much for the women, but my understanding is that the claim being filed empowered some of these women to come forward and believe that their voices would be heard.”

Megan Wright’s claims have been added to the lawsuit.

Earlier this year, Wright publicly resigned in front of city council saying she was frustrated by their response to the allegations.

In the lawsuit, Wright says firefighter Vince Braun touched her sexually while he was measuring her for a uniform.

She claims Braun tried to measure her chest and when she refused, he became “angry and threatening.”

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Steele makes similar allegations against Braun in the lawsuit. He is no longer a firefighter with Leduc Fire Services.

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A woman called A.M. in the statement of claim has come forward with her allegations from 2005.

The statement of claim says she was working alone in a dispatch room when an unnamed deputy chief came in and forcibly kissed her.

The document says she was fired two weeks later.

Claims of looking the other way

The plaintiffs claim that at least nine high-ranking male firefighters knew about at least some of the claims. Seven of the men continue to work for the city in some capacity.

That includes former fire chief Rick Sereda.

The statement of claim says an internal investigation uncovered misconduct by Sereda “which included, but was not limited to, his failure to address problems of discrimination, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault.”

Global News has not received a copy of that investigation.

Sereda was transferred within the city and now works at the director of public services.

Bo Moore is also named in the suit. Following Clancy’s resignation, Moore was named interim fire chief.

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Mindy Smith alleges she told Moore, who was a deputy chief at the time, that she had been sexually assaulted.

“Deputy Chief Moore informed her following this complaint that she was “emotionally unstable” and, in retaliation, had her taken off duty for three months without pay” the claim reads.

Steele also claims her concerns were brought to Moore but that she was told to “be the bigger person.”

Deputy Chief Gerry Kelly, Captain Harry Krabbes, Captain Spencer Michelsen, Captain Jeff Black and Captain Rod Ingram are also accused of having at least some degree of knowledge about the allegations. They all continue to work with Leduc Fire Services.

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Allegations of forced resignations

The City of Leduc has said it has taken action to make the city a safer place to work.

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That includes what the city called “disciplinary action” in late March.

It would not expand on what action was taken, only saying two male firefighters were no longer with the department.

The statement of claim says Allen Dignard and Chris Riemann were “forced to resign.”

Both Dignard and Riemann are named in the statement of claim, accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

“Leduc’s decisions to allow firefighters and management that have engaged in discrimination, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault to resign rather than be terminated means that Leduc and the fire department do not have to and do not report these individuals to the appropriate regulatory bodies,” the document points out.

The lawsuit claims that, as a result of the “fault and negligence” of the city and fire department, multiple women have sustained serious injuries and consequences.

There is no specific dollar figure listed in the suit, with the plaintiffs instead looking for general damages with the amount to be determined.

In an emailed statement to Global News on Wednesday, Leduc City Manager Derek Prohar said: “The City of Leduc received the amended statement of claim from our lawyer today. We cannot comment on the allegations contained in the statement as the matter is before the courts. They will be addressed through the legal process.”

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A case management judge has been appointed and dates for the certification hearing are expected to be set next week.

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