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CCSU cop fired for alleged sexual assault of female officer following probe

Hartford Courant 2018-11-29 16:15:00

A Central Connecticut State University police officer accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague was fired following a lengthy probe into the university and department’s mishandling of the case first reported in 2016, school officials said Thursday.

Officer Curtis Lollar, who was not criminally charged, was fired in September.

Bernard Sullivan, the former state public safety commissioner, was first brought in to investigate in June after a four-month probe by a Hartford law firm uncovered a “fraternity-like environment” in the CCSU police department, with “relaxed professional standards” that saw pervasive use of gender labels and officers being hired despite issues in background checks.

Sullivan, in a report released Thursday, wrote the school should “make every effort to keep Officer Lollar from returning to the department due to the nature of his behavior as determined by the investigation conducted by Shipman & Goodwin LLC.”

Shipman & Goodwin LLC, in a blistering report, outlined issues with the leadership of the department. Chief Administrative Officer Richard Bachoo, who oversees the department, was placed on leave after the report was released in June.

Through Shipman & Goodwin’s review of personnel files, the investigators learned that little formal discipline was taken against officers even after informal remedies were exhausted. Investigators learned that top officials failed to follow policies and did not properly investigate an allegation of sexual assault a female officer reported in the fall of 2016.

“The wholly inadequate manner in which [the sexual assault complaint] was handled calls into serious question the judgment of those responsible for the operation and direct oversight of the police department,” the law firm’s report says.

Lollar was known as “problem child” and “bully” in the police department, according to the report, and had been placed on leave in November 2017. Lollar made inappropriate comments about another female officer’s attitude and announced that it must be “as a result of her menstruation cycle,” the report highlighted.

The report called for “immediate action” to address significant problems in the department, including “the defective procedures that resulted in the failure of the police department to promptly investigate serious allegations into the conduct of CCSU police officers.”

CCSU Chief Administrative Officer Placed On Leave After Failure to Investigate Alleged Sexual Assault By Campus Police Officer »

In the months since, Sullivan, at the direction of university President Zulma R. Toro, has been working to identify and correct defective procedures and policies.

“He has worked with us to identify deficiencies, address critical issues, and instituted several new policies and procedures,” Toro said in a written statement. “The culture within the Police Department is improving, and I am confident this will continue as our police force works to regain its stature as a professional, caring partner in making the CCSU campus a safe and welcoming environment for all.”

In his review, Sullivan confirmed many of the findings in the law firm’s report about a culture of unprofessional and disrespectful behavior that lacked discipline, the university said.

On or near Nov. 17, 2016, the female officer told a lieutenant that she had been sexually assaulted by another member of the department, the report says. The lieutenant informed Chief Gregory B. Sneed in a memo, but after consultation with Bachoo, the matter was not investigated.

Sneed, at the time, had no conversations with the female officer about the allegations and only spoke to her about the matter when the alleged assault was reported to CCSU’s Office of Diversity and Equity.

At the time, Sneed again consulted Bachoo, and also spoke with the state’s attorney and state police about a criminal investigation, the report said. Bachoo never reported the assault to the Office of Diversity and Equity despite university policy requiring it.

Investigators wrote in the report: “It is inexplicable that a law enforcement agency like the CCSU Police Department would not have conducted at least some investigation into such a serious allegation against one of its officers as soon as it became aware of the allegation in 2016.”

No charges were ever filed. Investigators also said the department failed to take any “mitigating measures” in between the initial and subsequent complaints. Sneed remains Central’s police chief and now reports directly to Toro.

The report also highlighted that the department hired several police officers despite background checks that found evidence of significant discipline or other disqualifying performance issues in the past. Among those named in the law firm’s report was Lollar.

On Thursday, CCSU announced a number of measures undertaken by the university at Sullivan’s recommendation to correct issues in the department including increased training, including in sexual violence and harrassment, new disciplinary polciies, and increased budgeting and staffing.

“With proper supervision, there is no reason to believe the department and its individual officers cannot provide appropriate police services to the campus community,” Sullivan said.