IOWA CITY (AP) — The assistant director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy received a stern warning instead of a suspension for making numerous comments in the workplace that were sexually inappropriate and, in one case, threatening, according to a disciplinary letter obtained by the Associated Press.
Michael Quinn, 70, violated the state's anti-discrimination and violence-free workplace policies with remarks to cadets and employees about his testicles and his sex life, and by telling one subordinate he would “slit your throat” if she acted up, the letter said.
But in lieu of suspending him without pay for five days, academy Director Arlen Ciechanowski issued a “written notice of alternative discipline” that he said carried the same weight but would not affect Quinn's pay, seniority or benefits in the $91,000-per-year job.
Ciechanowski told Quinn it was imperative he understand that his failure to follow state policies was a serious matter, noting that he is in leadership at the academy and holds “a critical role model position for future Iowa law enforcement officials.”
“Because of your unique position, this suspension should serve as a final warning,” Ciechanowski wrote in the September 2012 letter.
Disciplinary files generally are considered confidential under Iowa law. But an attorney for Nancy Brady, an academy instructor who had complained about Quinn's behavior, received Quinn's letter from the Department of Administrative Services during a grievance over Brady's firing. The attorney, Gary Dickey, sent the letter to Brady, who shared it with the AP this week.
Brady contends that she was terminated in January after being unfairly accused of threatening Ciechanowski, appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad as director in 2011. She maintains that her firing and an earlier suspension amounted to retaliation for her complaint against Quinn and was unequal treatment when compared with Quinn's warning.
The investigation was prompted by complaints from female academy students who said Quinn singled them out to ask whether “penis size mattered” in a sex-abuse investigation class. Brady filed a complaint with the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, which conducted an investigation.
The investigation confirmed that Quinn had made those remarks, which Ciechanowski's letter said were “counterproductive to an effective learning environment,” because they embarrassed and offended students.
The investigation also confirmed that Quinn told Brady in August 2012 that he would “slit your throat” if she did not stay away from another employee at the academy's front desk. The statement, which Brady has on tape, “doesn't foster an environment of respect and professionalism,” Ciechanowski wrote.
The investigation also found that Quinn had made at least two statements to colleagues and students about his testicles after he had undergone a vasectomy.
Quinn also, when introducing himself to students, made comments about his sex life that were “unnecessary, inappropriate and counterproductive.” Ciechanowski's letter didn't elaborate.
Quinn declined to comment.
Ciechanowski said he followed the recommendation of the Department of Administrative Services in warning Quinn rather than giving him an unpaid suspension.
Quinn began working at the academy as an instructor in 2000, and Ciechanowski made him his assistant director in 2011.
After learning of Quinn's remarks in February, the Crime Victim Assistance Division in the Iowa Attorney General's Office removed Quinn from his position as coordinator of the academy's Violence Against Women Act grant.
The division also cut the academy's grant funding by $22,000 and made other changes to prevent and respond to any future inappropriate classroom behavior.
Dickey, the attorney, had represented Brady in a disciplinary grievance in which they argued she was being treated unfairly in comparison with the way Quinn was being treated.
Brady was suspended for three days last fall after sending an email to Ciechanowski berating him for his lack of action toward Quinn — a communication that Ciechanowski called threatening.
The Department of Administrative Services rejected Brady's grievance over the suspension, and she withdrew her appeal and a separate grievance over her termination, he said.
Department of Administrative Services spokesman Caleb Hunter said the agency did thorough investigations into Quinn and Brady, and Ciechanowski followed its disciplinary recommendations in both cases.
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