City of Muncie responds to former chief’s lawsuit, claims he resigned after sexual harassment complaint

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Steve Stewart

MUNCIE, Ind. – An attorney for the City of Muncie responded Thursday to a lawsuit filed by former Police Chief Steve Stewart.

Stewart, who resigned in Nov. 2016, filed the suit in Oct. 2017. It names Mayor Dennis Tyler and the City as defendants.

In the suit, former chief alleges he endured a hostile workplace environment after being ordered to investigate a longtime city employee who, after being fired from her job, offered to share information about public corruption if her termination wasn’t changed to retirement and her benefits were restored.

The suit also claims the City owes Stewart for hundreds of sick and vacation days that were “recalculated” to be far fewer in number than Stewart believed he was owed. He said Tyler made “false and defamatory statements” to the media about his conduct and tried to get other employees to make similar allegations.

Thursday, the City’s attorney said Stewart was the target of a sexual harassment investigation before his resignation in 2016.

“A City police employee on or about Oct. 20, 2016 made a verbal complaint of sexual harassment, retaliation, and abuse of power against Stewart,” reads the answer and motion for judgment on the pleadings filed by the City. “The complainant employee was asked to put this complaint in writing as is the City of Muncie’s normal procedure for any type of Employer-Employee allegation.”

On Oct. 20, 2016, a City attorney claims she asked Stewart to give a written account of the situation. Stewart did not and instead resigned as police chief a few days later, according to the City.

The City believes the lawsuit is “wholly without merit and is subject to dismissal merely by court examination of what was filed by Stewart and comparing it with the City’s answer.”

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