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Assistant police chief? of Hamburg will retire ?Ends turmoil over sex harassment charges

Stephen E. Mikac will retire Friday as Hamburg's assistant police chief, ending nearly two years of turmoil in Town Hall that included charges and countercharges of sexual harassment, retaliation and improper conduct.

The Town Board, in executive session Monday night, approved retirement for the 25-year member of the Police Department after he reached a settlement with the town. No one would disclose what was in the settlement.

Mikac claimed the police chief filed departmental charges against him last year, a week after Mikac made a complaint accusing Councilwoman Amy Ziegler of making "unwanted sexual advances." Mikac filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court against the town and Chief Michael Williams, seeking court costs and attorney's fees.

The disciplinary hearing against Mikac for the departmental charges was under way when his attorney and the town's outside legal counsel started negotiating last month.

The retirement resolution states Mikac has "relinquished" claims of retaliation, harassment and other wrongdoing by the town or Williams and "has acknowledged" that there was no retaliation, harassment or other wrongdoing. It also states Mikac "has accepted an appropriate disposition of the pending disciplinary charges against him."

The settlement agreement prohibits Mikac from discussing the terms.

"At this time I believe I'm not at liberty to discuss it, but I believe it is in everybody's interest to have it resolved the way it did," said David B. Cotter, Mikac's attorney.

Supervisor Steven Walters and Town Attorney Kenneth Farrell could not be reached to comment Tuesday.

Ziegler said the resolution of the case is in the interest of the community."I voted in favor of this resolution for the good of the community," she said. "I thought it was an appropriate disposition, to finally put these matters to rest and get on with the business of the community, and allow the police department to get down to some sense of normalcy."

Mikac had claimed he had a relationship with Ziegler when he was a captain and was one of four candidates for the police chief's job. He said he felt pressured to continue the relationship or risk losing her support for his promotion.

Williams filed departmental charges against Mikac last June and September, accusing him of not telling the chief that a recruit felt she was being graded unfairly by field training officers and of being uncooperative with the internal investigation into the matter. Mikac faced additional departmental charges after he solicited the captains and lieutenants union for a donation to his legal fund.

Mikac also sued the town in U.S. District Court, contending that the charges against him were in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment complaint against Ziegler. The town's compliance officer investigated the complaint and determined there was no evidence to support it.

Under the agreement with the town, Mikac agreed to discontinue the federal lawsuit.

Mikac apparently was concerned Ziegler could be biased against him when the Town Board considered the charges against him because he broke off their relationship. But supporters of Ziegler saw his complaint against her as a ploy to evade serious punishment.

Ziegler voted in favor of the resolution Monday night. Since the complaints filed against her had been deemed to be without merit, she said there was no conflict of interest. "Mr. Mikac has the right, as anyone does, to file any complaint or claim he thinks he's entitled to file and have his complaint heard," she said.

She had abstained from voting last July when the Town Board approved rules for the investigation of charges against Mikac. She said she abstained then because the complaint against her had just been filed.