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Montville police officer says Bunnell harassed her

By Jeffrey A. Johnson

Publication: The Day

Published May 24. 2012 4:00AM
Complaint outlines pattern of behavior

Montville - In a harassment complaint filed in October, police officer Karen Moorehead accused Lt. Leonard Bunnell of treating her unfairly and making comments about her breasts.

The complaint was filed Oct. 28 with the town and claims that Moorehead was singled out, threatened and harassed over a 10-month period.

It also states that starting last year around Sept. 20 she was subjected to a pattern and practice of continuous and overt harassment and disparate treatment by Bunnell, the town's highest-ranking police officer.

Moorehead also said in the complaint that she requested that Bunnell stay away from her. She claimed that Bunnell violated these instructions, ordered by Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr. and Sgt. Troy Gelinas, the town's resident state trooper.

Moorehead said in the complaint that she made a verbal complaint on Oct. 19 to the town's Equal Employment Opportunity officer. After learning of the complaint, she said Bunnell questioned if she had any police reports she should have filed. She said Bunnell then ordered Sgt. Dennis Mathers to write her up if that were the case.

Moorehead also said in the complaint that Bunnell told her "Goodnight Karen" on Oct. 21 in an intimidating manner as she left the police department. She said that both incidents were witnessed by numerous people.

Bunnell did not respond this week to calls seeking comment. Moorehead, the police department's school resource officer, declined comment Wednesday when reached by phone.

McDaniel, who by charter is the town's police chief, said that Moorehead's complaint was taken up by a workplace harassment committee. It retained the services of the law office of Suisman Shapiro to investigate the complaint.

He said new information recently arose which extended the investigation. McDaniel said he is expecting a final report on the committee's findings and expects some action on the complaint within the next two weeks.

The Day obtained part of the complaint, but has requested the town provide other documents pertaining to it. The town denied the request and argued it was exempt under state statutes designed to protect from an invasion of privacy. The Day has filed an appeal with the state Freedom of Information Commission.

State police also recently launched an investigation into whether Bunnell improperly used a state police computer database designed for criminal background checks.

A biannual audit of the Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications Teleprocessing system showed there were 38 instances involving Bunnell under review.

McDaniel said the state has rescinded Bunnell's use of the COLLECT system. He said the investigation has nothing to do with his job performance and normal duties and functions, which is why Bunnell continues to work during the investigation.

"He is in an administrative role. It really shouldn't affect his ability to affect the things expected of him," McDaniel said.

Richard Lenda, a former town police sergeant, also continues to purse a defamation lawsuit against Bunnell. Lenda, who said he worked for the department for about 25 years, claims that unfavorable and derogatory performance reviews that he says were written by Bunnell cost him a job as a state marshal.

The suit was filed in late 2009 and is ongoing in New London Superior Court.


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