This has not been a great summer for the Williamstown Police Department or the town of Williamstown. Back on June 30th, we posted a story that some residents of Williamstown wanted to defund the Police Department.  

And it looks like things have gotten a lot worse.

The Williams Record is reporting a sergeant at the Williamstown Police Department (WPD), Scott McGowan, filed a federal lawsuit today against the Department, WPD Chief Kyle Johnson, Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch and the Town of Williamstown for what McGowan described as retaliation against him for his opposition to instances of racial harassment and sexual assault committed by both unnamed WPD officers and Johnson. that a lawsuit, which was filed by a WPD sergeant, Scott

McGowan, alleges that:

Chief Kyle Johnson sexually assaulted McGowan four times, and other female and male officers;

A dispatcher said the N-word while a Black Williams student was touring the station in 2014;

An officer hung a photograph of Adolf Hitler in his station locker;

Johnson did not adequately discipline an officer who sexually assaulted a town resident in 2011;

An officer of color left the WPD due to racial harassment in 2016;

McGowan faced illegal retaliation for criticizing Johnson and the WPD for these incidents.

The complaint states,

For well over a decade, the Williamstown Police Department (WPD or Department) has maintained an atmosphere in which racial harassment and hostility to persons of color are tolerated and perpetrated at the highest level, to the extent that one officer of color left the Department just to escape the demeaning behavior of Chief Kyle Johnson.

The WPD also allegedly “turned a blind eye to sexual assault” committed by Johnson and an unnamed WPD officer, who, according to the complaint, remains on the force.

Hoch, who has been town manager since 2015, was named as a defendant in the complaint for failing to investigate or intervene after being made aware of Johnson’s alleged behavior, because “his concern was only that the reputation of the Town of Williamstown might suffer if these facts were publicized,” the complaint claimed.

David Russcol, the attorney representing McGowan, was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and seeks a jury trial.

The suit asks that damages be awarded to McGowan for

emotional and physical pain and suffering caused by the Defendants’ unlawful acts,” and compensation “for any loss of wages and/or benefits, damage to reputation and earning capacity.

It also seeks a court order barring the defendants from committing unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

The lawsuit alleges various incidents in which Johnson, who is white, and other WPD officers committed acts of racial harassment and created a hostile work environment for officers of color. The complaint tells of one 2014 incident in which “a dispatcher shouted the N-word in the Williamstown police station” while a Black student from Williams College was touring the station. According to the complaint, Johnson was aware of this incident, and the dispatcher admitted to this conduct, but Johnson took no formal disciplinary action. The dispatcher remains on the force, the complaint said.


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