Updated Tue, Apr 8, 2014 3:28 pm
The police chief that expressed his support for an officer who allegedly faced discrimination from a village mayor based on his sexuality is now named in a lawsuit along with other village employees.
Kyle Calendine, formerly an officer for the Pomeroy Police Department, filed a civil suit on April 4 in Meigs County Common Pleas Court asking to be reinstated as a police officer, back pay since his employment termination, $25,000 for emotional and mental damages and to have the hearing he said he deserved before he was removed from his position.
"I lost everything," Calendine told The Athens Messenger on Monday.
Calendine claims he was given the choice to resign or be fired in a private meeting with Pomeroy Police Chief Mark Proffitt on April 15, 2013, so the 22-year-old decided to resign.
"I've only had one write-up as an officer," Calendine said. "I thought maybe if I resigned I could get another job somewhere else."
Calendine was issued a "permanent suspension" by Proffitt that day, according to the lawsuit. This suspension effectively discharged Calendine from his status as a police officer, the suit states.
When asked by The Messenger what Calendine was suspended for, Proffitt did not comment because of the pending litigation.
Calendine was not given written notice of his suspension, nor was he given the opportunity to appeal his suspension or request a hearing in front of the village council regarding his suspension, he claims in the suit. He claims he did not know that he was entitled to these avenues until he read the policy and procedures manual which he also claims wasn't given to him until six months after his employment with the department.
Calendine told The Messenger he hasn't been able to find other employment with other agencies because of his previous employer.
"(Calendine) was not suspended from his position as police officer for the Village of Pomeroy, Ohio, in accordance with the laws of the State of Ohio and thus was wrongfully discharged," the suit states.
Calendine was the subject of a discrimination investigation in 2013 that led to the resignation of then-Mayor Mary McAngus.
McAngus was accused of trying to "influence her power" to employees of the police department against Calendine's lifestyle as a gay man, according to statements made by Proffitt at the time of the mayor's resignation.
“Mayor Mary called me into her office and told me that she heard that ‘Kyle was a queer.’ She also asked what we were going to do about it. I advised that we wasn’t going to say or do anything about it because it would be discrimination,” Proffitt wrote in records provided to the Messenger in February 2013.
“She stated, ‘I don’t like a queer working for the village, I might be old-fashion but I don’t like it,’” Proffitt wrote.
It was in February that McAngus submitted a letter to the Village Council saying she was resigning "due to the circumstances," which was inferred by village officials to refer to the discrimination allegations against her.
Proffitt sent out a news release when McAngus resigned, saying “At no time will I ever discriminate against any employee due to sexual orientation or any race, color, creed. I will not tolerate or allow this type of behavior to occur.”
Calendine now claims that Proffitt "used (him) to get rid of" McAngus.
"He stood behind me and as soon as Mary was gone, he was not behind me," Calendine said on Monday.
The former officer is demanding a jury trial in the civil case as well, saying he has records of his attempting to alert the village to his issues. He claims he called the Village Council and asked to be put on the agenda for their regular meeting, but was stopped at the door by current Mayor Jackie Welker.
"He said they didn't want to hear what I had to say," Calendine alleged.
Proffitt and Welker both declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying they hadn't yet been served with the documents.
The Village of Pomeroy is the third entity named as a defendant in the suit, but the attorney representing the village could not be reached for comment.