Planet Princeton

Seven Police Officers Sue Town of Princeton Alleging Harrassment by Former Police Chief David Dudeck

DudeckSeven Princeton police officers have filed a lawsuit against the town of Princeton, the Princeton Police Department, and former police chief David Dudeck, claiming that from 2008 until he went on a forced leave of absence this spring, Dudeck allegedly engaged in a continuing pattern of gender discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, disability discrimination and sexual harassment that was abusive and created a hostile work environment.

Previously, the police union had agreed that it would drop all claims against Dudeck if he retired, which he did.

Officers Sharon Papp, Carol Raymond, Steven Riccitello, Daniel Chitren, Christopher Donnelly, Michael Bender, and Christopher Quaste are the plaintiffs in the joint lawsuit filed in Mercer County Superior Court on Aug. 28. The officers want a trial by jury and are seeking compensation from the town for emotional distress, pain and suffering, lost promotions, employment, wages, benefits, punitive damages and attorney fees.

Papp and Raymond are lesbians. According to the lawsuit, Dudeck allegedly called them and other women “dykes” and repeatedly used the phrase “put his/their finger in the dyke” when referring to their work for the police department.

Dudeck allegedly referred to an officer who was working on an investigation of a sexual assault involving two gay Princeton University students as his “best d _ _ _-sucking detective and said he was the “perfect officer” to investigate a gay-related sex crime.

According to the lawsuit, Dudeck repeatedly grabbed his genital area, giving it a shake while either saying “right here” or “I’m no p_ _ _y.” The suit also claims that Dudeck said “they all think I’m a jerk off'” while he made a masturbating hand motion in front of officers.

According to the court documents filed by the lawyer for the police officers, Dudeck allegedly:

– Asked Chitren repeatedly about the size of his penis and referred to the penis of an African-American officer in the presence of other officers. He also allegedly asked another officer about the size of his penis while the officer was standing at a urinal.

– Called police officers slang words for a women’s genitals in the presence of other officers, male and female. Officers allege that he also referred to a male officer as having grown a female sexual organ.

– Squealed like a pig, imitating the movie “Deliverance”, in which a male was raped and told to squeal like a pig by his attackers. The officers allege that Dudeck asked them whether they “would take it that way.”

– Told male officers he wanted to “check their temperature” and then allegedly held up a single finger, moving it up and down as if he intended to take their rectal temperature.

– Forced Papp to watch him Google the word “dyke” and then allegedly told her the search showed pictures of two women.

– Referred to Quaste as “tea-bagging” other men. He allegedly also called Quaste “Q” for question, meaning there was a question about his sexual orientation. According to the suit, Dudeck repeatedly compared Quaste’s yearly camping trip with the movie “Brokeback Mountain”, referring to the movie involving gay men involved in a relationship on a camping trip, even though Quaste is a heterosexual, married male.

– Returned to the police department after drinking, and allegedly told an officer “I should #$%* you in the a_ _.” On another occasion he allegedly told officers another officer “had them bent over the table and was shoving it up their a_ _.”

– Asked male officers about their sex lives and allegedly asked if their wives or girlfriends ever stuck their fingers in their anuses. He allegedly claimed  one officer used a sex toy, and called the officer “Doh.”

– Mocked an officer who lost a testicle due to cancer, asking him ” How’s it hanging?” while at the urinal.

– Talked about anal sex, sex toys, and his sex life with his wife, and asked officers if they masturbate. Allegedly he told an officer who had testicular cancer that at least the officer could still masturbate.

– Told an officer who had been out sick that he sounded like the officer had something in his throat when he had talked to him on the phone. Then allegedly Dudeck made a gesture for fellatio.

– Claimed an officer who was out with tonsillitis was out of work because he had contracted oral herpes.

– Asked an officer if he ever used the phrase “deer velvet” for a woman’s genitals.

– Referred to Papp as “the claw”, allegedly mocking her for the scar on her right hand and wrist from a third-degree burn she suffered as a child.

– Mimicked a sexual activity with his finger when referring to Papp’s activities on vacation in Rhode Island.

– Stated in front of several officers that one in ten people are gay and that he knew there were gay officers in the department who were “not out of the closet”. He allegedly also asked two male officers if they were gay.

– Told an officer to shave the mustache he had grown for cancer awareness month because it made him look gay.

– Told an officer he was going to screw the officer over because the officer had arrested four Hun School students for possession of marijuana. Dudeck is the football coach at the Hun School.

– Threatened officers that if they ever spoke out against him, they would be committing career suicide. The officers claim Dudeck made false disciplinary and performance allegations in retaliation for their complaints about his conduct.

The lawsuit claims town officials aided and abetted Dudeck by negligently hiring him as chief despite allegedly knowing about his discriminatory conduct, that officials failed to discipline him for that conduct, colluded with Dudeck to hide his discriminatory conduct, and allegedly improperly monitored the officers’ conduct after he went on forced leave by using other officers as informants.

The suit comes four months after the Princeton Council and Dudeck entered into a separation agreement that would allow him to retire at the end of this month in exchange for all the charges against him being dropped. In early August Dudeck filed his paperwork with the state to retire. He officially retired on Sept. 1, a month earlier than originally planned.

As part of the Dudeck settlement, the police union agreed to withdraw all allegations against Dudeck, and the Mercer County Prosecutor agreed not investigate charges previously made by the union. Under the agreement, both Dudeck and the town are barred form any future litigation regarding his employment, and Dudeck is forbidden from discussing the agreement. At the time the settlement was made, some officials praised the agreement, saying it would protect everyone from future legal liability and that the police department could begin a new chapter.

“The agreement provides everyone involved with the ability to move on,” Mayor Liz Lempert said at the time the governing body approved the agreement.

When the original complaint about Dudeck was filed in the spring by the police union, there were never any individual complainants named, only witnesses to incidents in a written complaint filed by the police union. Officers now claim that individual officers are not bound by the union agreement with the town regarding the Dudeck settlement.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Jeremy

    If any of this is true, I’m actually okay with accepted (“lawsuits and allegations withdrawn”) “locker room language” in an institution full of intellectual 12 year olds (even though they all make $100K+ a yr. from taxpayers)

    If this isn’t true or misconstrued/contextually blown out of proportion I would refuse to allow my reputation to be permanently marred by these accusations for the sake of convenience and at considerable financial cost especially if I had additional longstanding relationships with the community in various coaching capacities.

  • Millie

    Geez, I believe this is the same guy who in error, pulled my son out of the car and TOTALLY VERBALLY abused him, telling him what he was going “to do” with his club. Can’t imagine what he did to the REAL guy he was looking for that day.

  • Faagstrum

    Real nice, new goverment and let all the dirty cops off the hook. why not let the traffic tickets be forgiven also. the lets the convicts out of jail and frget all the laws and write new one on a need to have basis.

  • fedup

    There are similarities between the environment in a police station and the one you find in a football program like Hun – the guy with the power is intimidating and can make it tough if you stand up. Dudeck is a little man who has been able to reach these positions of authority and power, enabled by those (men) around him. Just watch the short little man strutting around, sort of like George W always did, trying so hard to be the tough guy. Is any of this surprising. So glad he is out of Hun.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    The context of when the foul language and gestures were made is important, so is the other police officers”reactions to them when was actually happening. We’re complaints documented? Why is everything coming out now and there were no words before. I was one who wanted a deep investigation as a reputation was tarnished if the allegations were not true. But everybody seemed to agree that it was better to settle instead of going through years of litigation. She says/He says is what is happening now and the way the attorney, mayor, councils settle can create same sort of problems in the future. If Dudek was guilty, he shouldn’t have been given all those months of “sick” leave and his full retirement afterwards. If he wasn’t guilty, why would he has to pretend he is on “sick” leave, we all knew he wasn’t sick. When there is no transparency, stuff will come back to haunt you, sooner or later.
    If Dudek is guilty and was paid in full and could retire with all benefits, of course the victims feel frustrated and entitled to the same. If he is not, why hide and accept your reputation to be questioned?
    And finally, only those who were there know what happened, and if you did not report his behavior on time, if you laughed and clapped, then you participated and then, shame on you.
    I always assume that this sort of language known as “locker room language” is not unusual, it is actually very common. Is it right? It is not the language I use but I do believe that all this has to be put into consideration.
    I also think that the town lawyer screwed it big time. Let’s check his salary.
    And now that the time has come, perhaps the best thing is to hire an “outside” administrator for the Police Department, things are too complicated now, what is needed is a neutral person, who comes to do his/her job without ties, relationships, etc with the town and its officials, it is very messy right now.
    There are 3 council members who are very vocal and who seem to want to go to bed after achieving a day of work well done. Others seem to be more sensitive and personalize the stuff, that is not good, decisions should be made with a clear conscience and in the best interest of the town.
    So, shame on all who are involved, shame on the “petty” ones, shame on the PC ones, shame on that lawyer, and shame on those who knew what was going on and did nothing.

  • Rockinrolling

    Thank you for speaking up, hopefully other will now too.

  • Rodney

    So you are telling me that he hasn’t coached a single time this season even though the practice season started in early August?

  • Mike

    I played for Dudeck the first season he was at Hun, and I am sorry they ever hired him. He wasn’t respectful to players at all, nor did he care about their education. I missed a preseason summer workout (not the three-a-day preseason camp, this was even prior to that) so that I could go on a college visit. When I returned I was told that football should come first. Yes, he actually said football should come before preparing for college at a college preparatory school. I wasn’t going to be a Div. I player, and knew that academics were more important to my future than football would be, Dudeck apparently disagreed. Hun made a mistake when they broke with tradition to bring someone in to coach football only and not have another primary role at the school. Is Hun Football winning these days? Sure. But it is not the Hun Football of Bill Long and Tom Ryan, and it is doing a disservice to the students there to allow this bully to continue to coach.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    I would like to know that, too. Are there past complaints documented? If so, then the settlement was wrong. If there weren’t complaints, then too bad, the new government could have started from 0 on.
    What really happened? Are we too PC? Was only Dudek talking the way?
    What exactly is the town lawyer there for?

  • Tim

    To generalize and blacklist a school based on allegations is quite short sited, in my opinion. I think your emotions are getting the best of you, unless you have a first hand account of the events. The irony of your statements is that I played for Dudeck at PHS, attended Hun prior to Dudeck’s arrival, and would welcome the oppty to have one of my children attend Hun AND play for Coach Dudeck. I still apply life lessons learned from him, none of which pertain to bullying, being cruel or picking on others. I am sure if you polled the many scholar athletes Dudeck has coached, you would get a similar response.

  • disillusioned

    He bailed because it was time to coach football. He couldn’t do that until he retired.

  • rockinrolling

    To Tim,
    Do you want this person to be in any school teaching or coaching with our children? Aren’t we fighting to stop the Bullying? Don’t you teach your kids not to be cruel to others? You don’t pick on people because they have Cancer or any type of disfigurement. Take a look at most High Schools and you will see they have Gay and Lesbian groups, we are the in year 2013 aren’t we? Glad my kids don’t go to Hun. I wouldn’t want them exposed to him. Hence this is not a witch hunt. It’s to protect our children from his bad habits.

  • Wolfenotes

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  • Been There

    None of these officers filed a complaint while Dudeck was still in charge of the department – or even while he was a superior officer. The Borough had sexual harassment policies and whistle-blower protections in place when the alleged offenses occurred. I’m confident that Dudeck would not have been chosen as Chief if a complaint had been filed and any of these charges had been substantiated.

  • Wolfenotes

    Good reporting – assume all this was in the legal filing.

    Wonder what Hun will do? Is he still there? THis man should not be around boys.

    Have local officials who knew adn approved of all this made public statements?

  • tiresius

    Talk about Inappropriate. And apparently many of the other paid, public officials and elected officials are happy to cover this up and give him his $10,000 a month retirement package.

    Hard to believe that all of this suddenly appeared just this year; has to have been a pattern of behavior that went on for years, without challenge.

  • Rodney

    If it were just a single officer I would agree with you. This is seven, and many are supervisors. Isn’t it a coincidence that the Chief was just in the news for abruptly moving up his retirement date and then this hits? He saw it coming and bailed.

  • Tim

    These are alleged comments, not substantiated evidence in a conviction. Innocent until proven guilty, right? Let’s not draw suspect parallels to the man’s coaching career either… I thought witch hunts went out of style a few hundred years ago.

  • Pingpong

    Looks like he *was* above the law. No real consequence for all his actions. He gets $100k+/year to not come to work!

  • JFL

    Wow….talk about someone thinking they’re above the law. What an idiot!

  • Rockinrolling

    If he acts this way to adults, how does he treat the football students at Hun School?

  • SFB

    I tend to agree that heads should roll. However, if we fire somebody over it, they’ll probably get an expensive settlement too. Us Princeton taxpayers are getting rolled.

  • Bob G

    How come the town’s enormously overpaid lawyer, Ed Schmierer, coasting on over 400 thousand and rising of our tax dollars, didn’t get signed releases from all parties, including those who made the allegations, when he put together the ‘Dudeck settlement’? Now the town is exposed again in the second police to police lawsuit that the department is facing – one cop we hire gets into a beef with another cop that we hire and we the taxpayers get to pay off one to retire and then other to say we’re sorry. Heads should roll on this one. Seven officers times a few hundred thousand dollar settlement means millioins dollars more of exposure. Shouldn’t someone be held accountable for this lunacy? Administrator? He’s in charge of the sinking ship? Town Attorney? He didn’t keep the town out of legal exposure when he had a chance to do so drafting an agreement with only half of the parties present on the signature page.

  • Brooksie

    Unbelievable that this was allowed to go on as long as it did. Disgraceful.

  • cloudy2

    Wow!
    I can’t believe it,such a loser.

  • SFB

    Wow! Trenton Times, Packet, Town Topics etc etc…have a look at where the Princeton news is now. Right here on Planet Princeton.

    Seriously though, I’ll be happy to have all this out in the open. Our police department (and oversight thereof) is apparently completely dysfunctional and we need to clear the air properly.

  • Stephen

    “…a separation agreement that would allow him to retire at the end of this
    month in exchange for all the charges against him being dropped.”

    What the hell? Do the police tell other criminals, like drug dealers or pimps (criminals who, unlike Dudeck, -aren’t- employed by the government), that they’ll drop the charges if the offenders promise to retire from their respective careers?

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