Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Asbury Park's 2011 settlement of sexual harassment claim against recently promoted Deputy Police Chief disclosed.

A May 2, 2014 article in the Asbury Park Press, "Asbury Park names new deputy police chief," reported on the city's 2011 out-of-court settlement that resolved a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by police officer Jessenia Davila-Vick against Deputy Chief (then Captain) Anthony Salerno.  According to the article, "[t]he amount of the settlement was not available immediately."  The article also contained Salerno's lawyer's contention that the “entire matter is the result of vindictive behavior of Jessenia Davila-Vick.”

Believing that is important for the public to know the amount of the settlement, I submitted an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request and have placed the responsive documents on-line here.

The documents consist of a) Davila-Vick's April 28, 2006 lawsuit which sets forth the creepy behavior that Salerno was alleged to have engaged in; b) the Asbury Park City Council's September 14, 2011 resolution that authorized a $55,000 settlement amount and c) the settlement agreement under which Davila-Vick accepted $55,000 ($33,968.78 for her damages and $21,031.22 for her attorney fees) to settle both her civil lawsuit and workers compensation claim.  The agreement also provided for Davila-Vick to be reimbursed for 32 days of paid leave and assigned her to a position "that is not under the command of Anthony Salerno."

The agreement also called for all parties to "not divulge the contents" of the settlement agreement and to not "characterize the settlement of these matters as either a victory or defeat."  Fortunately, such confidentiality agreements do not defeat disclosure under the Open Public Records Act.