The attorneys who sparred over Sgt. Scott Mc-Gowan’s initial allegations of sexual harassment and racial bias within the Williamstown Police Department will go up against one another again, this time in U.S. District Court.

The Berkshire Eagle reports that an attorney with Robinson Donovan P.C. in Springfield, will represent the town, Town Manager Jason Hoch, and Police Chief Kyle Johnson.

This year, Rapinchuk handled the 41-page response the town provided to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. That is where McGowan first took his grievances. But, the November 2019 complaint was withdrawn in August, when the sergeant decided to take his case to U.S. District Court.

McGowan claims that, in 2007, Johnson sexually assaulted him and another officer by repeatedly rubbing his groin against them. The complaint also cites racially discriminatory actions by Johnson and others, including use of derogatory language and harassment of a Black officer.

It also accuses Johnson of passing over McGowan for promotion as retaliation for flagging workplace harassment and pressing for reforms.

Williamstown has not yet filed a response to the allegations in McGowan's civil lawsuit. That is due Oct. 9, according to Rapinchuk.

The federal lawsuit contains virtually the same allegations as the MCAD complaint. Rapinchuk wrote in the response that actions taken by the town were "legitimate, nondiscriminatory and non-retaliatory."

She notes that McGowan lost his bid for a new lieutenant's post because the other candidate scored higher on assessments handled by an outside review panel.

McGowan's attorney, David Russcol, has labeled that assessment a "sham" and claims that Johnson decided to bypass McGowan before the sergeant applied.

The case has been assigned to U.S. Magistrate Katherine A. Robertson.

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