State police sergeant sues, claims he was reassigned after reporting sexually inappropriate conduct of counter-terrorism colleague
By Zach Murdock
Feb. 18, 2020
A state police sergeant claims he was retaliated against by public safety Commissioner James Rovella early last year after the sergeant reported the sexually inappropriate lunch conversation of a colleague.
Sgt. Timothy Begley contends he was reassigned from the state police counter-terrorism unit to a midnight patrol shift in March 2019 in apparent retribution for his role in filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Office when a female member of the unit reported a colleague’s sexually inappropriate remarks, according to a lawsuit filed Friday.
At the time, the accused colleague was a Hartford police detective assigned to the unit while Rovella was still chief of the Hartford Police Department, according to the lawsuit.
When Rovella became the head of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection in February 2019, Begley was reassigned just 16 days later to a shift, he argues in the lawsuit, that was designed to punish him for reporting Rovella’s employee three years earlier.
Brian Foley, an aide to Rovella, said the commissioner and department would not comment on the accusations, citing the ongoing lawsuit. A formal reply to the complaint has not yet been filed with the court.
At the core of the lawsuit is an off-color lunchtime conversation in February 2016 between several members of the counter-terrorism unit, including a female officer and Hartford Detective Steven Citta, according to the EEO complaint filed after the incident. During the lunch, Citta allegedly talked about exotic dancers, his genitals and masturbation, which made the female officer uncomfortable.
The female officer reported the conversation to Begley, who in turn reported it to his superiors and filed an EEO complaint ont he officer’s behalf, the complaint shows.
Citta was removed from the counter-terrorism unit in the wake of the report and returned to the Hartford Police Department, where Rovella installed him as head of the then-newly formed Capital City Command Center intelligence and surveillance camera network in the city, according to the lawsuit.
Begley claims the center, known as C4, “immediately stopped sharing intelligence” with the state police counter-terrorism unit once Citta was elevated and the Rovella was “dismissive” when Begley raised the lack of sharing, according to the lawsuit.
When Rovella later became the head of the state police, Begley was reassigned to work the night shift in Hartford, despite Begley’s good performance reviews and his prior service as the temporary head of the unit during his supervisor’s previous months-long leave of absence, according to the lawsuit. Begley also claims he was removed from the Rentschler Field core security team and denied other opportunities to work overtime and was stripped of his security clearance after his transfer.
The lawsuit asks the court to reinstate Begley to the counter-terrorism unit, to restore his security clearance and cover any monetary damages and lost wages.
Zach Murdock is a breaking news reporter for the Hartford Courant.