A federal lawsuit claims a former Chicago firefighter inappropriately touched a male paramedic trainee from Malcolm X College while he ate dinner at a South Shore firehouse.
Ex-firefighter William Regan allegedly made a series of lewd remarks before grabbing the unnamed plaintiff on the evening of June 20, 2018, according to the suit, filed in U.S. District court July 10.
The student was at Engine 126 firehouse, 7313 S. Kingston Ave., as part of his “ride-along” training with the Chicago Fire Department to become a paramedic, the suit states.
Regan allegedly asked the student if he wanted to get into the shower with him, and then said there was a pool in the basement, the suit states.
“I can teach you how to swim naked,” Regan allegedly said, according to the suit.
At the dinner table, Regan then allegedly put his hand on the student’s leg and inappropriately grabbed him, the suit states.
The student reported the incident to other firehouse personnel, who called in at least four battalion chiefs who were allegedly quick to dismiss the student’s claims.
“It was just firehouse horseplay … He was just playing around,” one battalion chief allegedly said.
The CFD personnel then allegedly threatened the student not to call police, the suit states, but the student called anyway.
The alleged coverup continued when officers arrived, with one captain allegedly telling police: “This motherf—– doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Other CFD members then allegedly told police they didn’t know what the student was talking about.
In addition to the alleged coverup of the harassment, the suit claims the incident is part of a department-wide “code of silence,” in which the department allegedly lies to coverup and protect firefighters accused of wrongdoing.
After the incident, Regan was fired from the department and lost an attempt in arbitration to recover his job, according to CFD spokesman Larry Langford, who declined to comment on the suit.
The City of Chicago is also named as a defendant. Kathy Fieweger, the city’s law department spokeswoman, said the city hasn’t been served with the lawsuit and does not have a comment.
Attempts to reach Regan were unsuccessful.
Since 2008, the Chicago Fire Department has paid out nearly $92 million in workplace discrimination lawsuits, more than any other U.S. city except New York.
In 2018, five female CFD paramedics sued the department, alleging sexual harassment from their bosses.