New London police officer follows complaint against chief with lawsuit
New London — The New London police lieutenant who filed a complaint that led to temporary suspension of the police chief last year has now filed a lawsuit against the city.
Jeffery Kalolo, who was temporarily demoted to sergeant last year after an investigation into his alleged harassment of a female detective at the department, alleges in his suit that he was sexually harassed and unjustly punished by Police Chief Brian Wright.
He is seeking an unspecified amount of money for lost wages, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages. The suit was filed on July 20 in New London Superior Court. Kalolo, 58, joined the department in 1985 and has been a lieutenant since 2008.
The allegations in the lawsuit are similar to the claims Kalolo made in a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. That complaint was filed last year while Kalolo was awaiting disciplinary action stemming from the findings of an internal investigation into complaints against him by a female officer.
Kalolo’s complaint led to Wright being placed on administrative leave. The city hired an outside attorney to investigate and Wright, cleared of wrongdoing, was brought back after six weeks.
Kalolo claims in his suit that during a stretch of time in 2019, Wright has “engaged in a campaign of sexual harassment against (Kalolo) which took the form of persistent sexualized remarks and overtures while the two were alone in the shift commander’s office.”
Wright was still a captain at the time.
“These verbal attacks were profane, offensive and derogatory and materially changed the working environment for the Plaintiff,” Kalolo alleges.
Some of the less explicit examples included in the suit include, “Do you like cuddling guys?” and “Are you sweet on him?” alleged remarks Kalolo claims were accompanied by inappropriate hand gestures. In one instance, Kalolo claims Wright flicked a business card promoting a male erotic dancer and remarked “in case you get lonely and need male entertainment.”
“While altogether offensive and humiliating, (Kalolo) was likewise unsure of whether the sexualized language was for the purpose of inviting (Kalolo) to participate in sexual acts with Captain Wright or separately directed at (Kalolo) as a disparaging commentary on the Plaintiff’s sexual orientation,” Kalolo writes.
Kalolo said in the suit he never filed a complaint at the time “out of fear of reprisal, sheer humiliation, school/or traumatic stress.”
He alleges the harassment stopped when Wright was assigned to investigate a complaint against Kalolo and Sgt. Charles Flynn by detective Melissa Schafranski-Broadbent.
Schafranski-Broadbent has a pending lawsuit which names Kalolo and Flynn and alleges institutional sexism, a hostile work environment and intimidation by her superior officers over the course of several years.
Kalolo argues in his suit that Wright’s investigation into Schafranski-Broadbent’s complaint was “patently biased and directed in such a way to lend support for a predetermined outcome.” He argues the investigation was a way to retaliate against Kalolo.
The internal investigation into Kalolo was completed on Jan. 15, 2021, but not immediately acted on by former Police Chief Peter Reichard, who left the department in May of 2021. So much time had passed since the 2019 complaint against Kalolo that Kalolo said in his suit he was under the impression the complaint was found to be unsubstantiated.
The mayor’s office reviewed the findings of the internal investigation in September of 2021, after Wright was named chief, and determined what discipline Kalolo would receive since it was Wright who has conducted the investigation.
Kalolo, in an Oct. 28, 2021 letter from New London’s Chief Administrative Officer Steven Fields, was notified that a review of the findings of the internal investigation included “compelling evidence” Kalolo had violated department policies in the areas of harassment, disparate treatment, intimidating and offensive work environment, hostile work environment and interfering with work performance.
In November, 2021, the city demoted Kalolo from lieutenant to sergeant for a minimum of a year for violating the department’s harassment and discrimination policies, among other violations. He was also ordered to complete 160 hours of training in areas that included supervisory training, workplace harassment, leadership and management.
The investigation into Kalolo’s initial complaint against Wright, conducted by attorney Michael Rose, had cleared Wright of wrongdoing and allowed him to return after six weeks on administrative leave. Rose concluded Kalolo’s claims, which are similar to those contained in the lawsuit, were either unsubstantiated, unfounded, or in the case of the sexual harassment complaint, did not rise to the level of harassment.
The city’s law director’s declined comment on the lawsuit, citing the ongoing litigation.
Kalolo declined comment on the suit but his attorney, Bryan Fiengo, with the New London-based law firm Suisman Shapiro, said Kalolo “stands by the allegations contained in his complaint and is prepared to fully adjudicate his claims against the Department.”
Chief Wright declined comment on the pending suit but reiterated the comments he made when Kalolo’s initial complaint was filed.
“I’m just focusing on moving this agency forward,” Wright said.
The city police union, in a statement, confirmed the union has filed several grievances related to Kalolo’s discipline with the State Labor Board that await a hearing date.