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Hamburg assistant police chief claims retaliation after sex complaint

An assistant police chief in Hamburg is charging that the town retaliated against him after he filed a sexual harassment complaint against a town councilwoman.

Assistant Chief Stephen E. Mikac claims the police chief filed charges against him a week after he made a complaint accusing Councilwoman Amy Ziegler with "unwanted sexual advances."

He has filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court against the town and Chief Michael Williams, seeking court costs and attorney's fees. Mikac's attorney said the lawsuit is not about money, but to stop retaliation.

"The goal with this lawsuit is to clear the record and protect someone's long-standing, productive career," said Christina A. Agola.

Mikac, 52, is a 25-year veteran with the Police Department, serving as a lieutenant and captain before being named assistant chief last August.

Town attorney Kenneth Farrell said the town will vigorously defend the charges.

"We have policies that no one should discriminate, or retaliate either," he said. "The underlining initial claim was investigated thoroughly by the town. There was no finding of any wrongdoing by [Ziegler]," Farrell said.

Mikac met Ziegler when she was running for the Town Board in 2009, according to court papers. He said she told him if he supported her, she would support him when she got elected. When the police chief's job became available, Ziegler told Mikac the Town Board would select Michael Williams as chief, and she lobbied for him to be named assistant chief.

Mikac claims in court papers that Ziegler made unwanted advances and pressured him for a relationship, even saying at times that she was his "boss." He maintains that Ziegler had his resume done professionally when he applied for the chief's job, and later accused him of dating other women.

Mikac filed a harassment complaint with the town last July, and on Sept. 2, 2011, he filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A week later, he was charged with violating department rules.

The chief accused Mikac of violating rules, orders and regulations of the department in dealing with a female recruit, not telling the chief that the recruit felt she was being graded unfairly by field training officers, and being uncooperative with the internal investigation into the matter.

The police recruit, Yvonne Kempski, has filed notice of claim against the town and several officers, including Mikac.

Ziegler has denied the harassment charges, calling them spurious. The town attorney said the EEOC found no basis that the town violated federal statutes, but the commission issued a notice of right to sue, allowing Mikac to bring the lawsuit in federal court.

The town has hired a hearing officer to conduct the hearing into town charges against Mikac. The Town Board will review the officer's recommendations, decide whether the charges are sustained and, if so, decide what punishment would be imposed.