Sheriff’s Department Sexual Harassment Suit Costs Taxpayers

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MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Middlesex County agreed to a nearly $1 million settlement to end a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by five female sheriff’s officers against the county and sheriff’s department in 2004.

The settlement – reached last May – awarded $522,980 to Officers Laury Hamilton, Eileen Mazzei, Gail Decibus-Cuffe, Janet Martinez, and Donna Karlson, according to a document obtained by the Atom Tabloid last week. As part of the settlement, the county also agreed to pay $327,020 in legal fees to the attorneys representing the women.

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The lawsuit alleged that the five women were subjected to sexual harassment by various members of the Sheriff’s Office, including co-workers and supervisors, and that their complaints were not given serious attention.

Accusations were made against Sheriff Joseph Spicuzzo, but a judge had previously dropped him and all of the other named defendants from the suit, according to Middlesex County Counsel Thomas Kelso.

According to Kelso, the county decided to settle the lawsuit because of the potential cost of going to trial and never conceded that any of the women’s claims were valid.

Spicuzzo, 63, is seeking re-election as sheriff this year.

A separate lawsuit filed by two former women sheriff’s officers is still pending in federal court. Joan Ivana and Angel Jazikoff allege that a hostile work environment affected their mental and physical health.


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