A former South Jersey police officer suffering from a degenerative condition who wants his job back is suing his former boss alleging he made unwanted sexual advances.
“He never wanted to miss a single day of work,” said attorney Zach Wall.
Wall’s client, former Haddon Township Police Officer Jason DeMent, recently sued Chief Mark Cavallo and the township saying he hopes to get back his job so he can support his wife and daughters.
“Officer DeMent’s complaint alleges a string of unwanted sexual touchings and unwanted sexual comments,” Wall told NBC10’s Cydney Long on Friday.
Cavallo made comments like “do you want to lock the door and pull down the blinds, baby,” according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court.
DeMent, 36, says he isn’t looking for desk duty but for the support to battle Stargardt disease, which slowly diminishes his vision.
“I am not asking for modified duty for the remainder of my career,” said DeMent in a prepared statement. “I am simply asking for reasonable accommodation while I seek treatment to defeat this rare disease. I am not asking for special treatment or an easier schedule. I love my job and I love this Township, which is why I moved my family here. I truly hope that the Township considers all the facts of my situation and allows me to resume working immediately.”
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The 14-year-veteran’s job, however, was posted the day after he was let go in June, said DeMent’s suit.
DeMent claims he was fired after he refused Cavallo’s advances. He says the chief called him “cute” and handsome” while touching DeMent inappropriately, alleges the suit. DeMent also claimed that his boss said, “talk dirty to me baby.”
“It happened repeatedly,” said Wall. “…The chief was his boss and Officer DeMent basically felt helpless.”
Attempts by NBC10 to reach Cavallo on Friday by phone and in person were unsuccessful.
"Mr. DeMent's allegations are without merit, and both Haddon Township and Chief Cavallo intend to defend this matter vigorously," said township solicitor Eric Riso.
DeMent said he had no plan to back down.
“I have pleaded for the township and the police chief to assist me in this extremely difficult time, and requested that I may be approved for light duty so that I could continue to work and support my wife and daughters.”
His accrued vacation and medical leave runs out in October.
DeMent, who is president of his union, says the department’s policy is discriminatory. He's suing for lost wages, emotional distress and would like a jury trial.