The Princeton Council on Monday night voted unanimously to approve legal settlements with several police officers who accused a former chief of harassment, discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.
Officials did not disclose the total amounts of the settlements at the council meeting and did not disclose the top four settlement amounts, claiming the insurance companies still had to approve the settlements.
But the lawyer for the seven officers who were plaintiffs in the case has provided Planet Princeton with the settlement figures. The settlement is not confidential, and was placed on the record in court on Feb. 4. The parties agreed that the settlements are not confidential, lawyer Matthew Peluso confirmed.
The municipality of Princeton has agreed to pay a total of $3.925 million to the officers instead of having the case go to trial. The settlements with the officers are as follows:
Sharon Papp – $1.3 million
Dan Chitren – $1.15 million
Carol Raymond – $600,000
Chris Donnelly – $500,000
Chris Quaste – $150,000
Mike Bender – $125,000
Steve Riccitello – $100,000
Princeton taxpayers are on the hook for insurance deductibles, co-insurance payments, and all the legal fees the municipality has paid its lawyers in the case since 2013.
As part of the settlement, the municipality did not admit any guilt or liability.
The officers alleged that David Dudeck, the former chief of Princeton Borough and the first chief of the consolidated Princeton, engaged in a continuing pattern of gender discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, disability discrimination and harassment that was abusive and created a hostile work environment.
The lawsuit against the town and Dudeck was filed four months after the Princeton Council and Dudeck entered into a separation agreement that allowed him to retire. As part of the agreement, the police union withdrew allegations its members made against Dudeck, and the Mercer County Prosecutor agreed not to investigate charges previously made by the union. Under the agreement, both Dudeck and the town were barred from any future litigation regarding his employment, and Dudeck was forbidden from discussing the agreement.
At the time the settlement was made, the mayor and some council members praised the agreement, saying it would protect everyone from future legal liability and that the police department could “begin a new chapter.” But town officials never obtained individual agreements from the officers involved.