A Town Hall soap opera in Rockland involving allegations of sexual harassment, affairs between married members of the Board of Selectmen, and late-night surveillance video from town offices took a new turn Tuesday as the suspended town administrator filed a discrimination complaint.
Allan Chiocca, who was placed on paid leave on May 29, alleges Deirdre Hall, a former member of the Board of Selectmen, falsely accused him of sexual misconduct tied to an encounter at Rockland Town Hall, the complaint states.
“She was actually the true victimizer, exploiting her position of power to force him to participate in sexual acts against his will,” Chiocca’s lawyers wrote in the 46-page complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
He is seeking damages for wages, benefits, emotional distress, and other costs.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen announced it would not take action against Chiocca’s contract, which ends next June 30 . The town also disclosed for the first time that former Selectman Edward Kimball, who resigned in July, has also threatened legal action.
“This entire episode has been an embarrassment to the Town of Rockland, and we would all like it to end,’’ selectmen said in the statement. “Unfortunately, the individuals that put the Town in this position do not seem interested in putting this behind them or letting the Town do so.”
The incident began late on May 1 and continued into the early morning hours of the following day. An investigator hired by the town concluded that Hall sexually harassed Chiocca, writing in a July report that she sought sexual relations with the town administrator in exchange for her support for his contract extension and raise, records show.
When Hall became worried that the encounter would become public, she accused Chiocca of inappropriate conduct and asked the Board of Selectmen to investigate, the complaint said.
“Hall repeatedly used her position on the [Board of Selectmen] to threaten to vote against Mr. Chiocca’s then-pending raise and contract extension if he did not accede to her sexual demands, and when she became concerned that Mr. Chiocca was going to disclose her conduct, she brazenly accused him of being the aggressor,” the complaint said.
Hall, who resigned her position in July, declined to comment on Tuesday. Chiocca’s complaint was filed against her, the town, three current selectmen, and Kimball.
Kimball and Hall were engaged in an “intense physical and emotional affair” in March and April, the complaint said. Kimball’s wife confronted Hall about it on May 1, hours before the encounter between Hall and Chiocca at Town Hall.
Kimball didn’t return a message Tuesday seeking comment.
His lawyer, Brian Palmucci, told the town last month in a letter that Kimball was considering legal action against Rockland, saying he was a victim of retaliation. Town officials made Palmucci’s letter public Tuesday night.
Kimball resigned under pressure, Palmucci wrote, after he alerted the town that Hall had accused Chiocca of sexual misconduct.
Attorney Adam J. Shafran, who represents Chiocca, said his client hasn’t been able to find a new job. Over the summer, he asked the town for about $5 million in damages, he said.
“He would like to obtain a remedy for the irreparable tarnishing of his career and his reputation based entirely on false allegations,” Shafran said.
Selectmen said they voted not to take action against Chiocca’s contract to “protect the Town against further legal exposure.” The town also announced its insurance carrier has hired a law firm to handle legal matters involving Chiocca and Kimball.
Chiocca’s complaint traces the imbroglio back to May 1, when Hall received a text message from Kimball’s wife while she was leading a Board of Selectmen meeting. In the text, Dawn Kimball said she knew Hall and her husband were having an affair.
After the meeting, the complaint said, Chiocca and Hall drove separately to Rockland Bar and Grill, a spot where town officials normally gather after selectmen’s meetings.
While at the restaurant, Hall revealed to Chiocca that she was having an affair with Kimball.
As the evening progressed, Hall began to “make sexually suggestive comments” to Chiocca, rubbed his leg and touched his arm, the complaint said.
“I’m not your guy, even if I wanted to, I’m not your guy,” the complaint quotes Chiocca as telling Hall.
Hall and Chiocca later returned to town hall, where some of their movements were recorded on surveillance video, which was made public last summer.
The sexual encounter occurred in Chiocca’s office. Attorney Regina Ryan, who investigated the matter, sided with Chiocca.
“But for the fact that Ms. Hall was his supervisor and would be voting on his contract,” she wrote, “Mr. Chiocca would not have agreed to this.”Laura Crimaldi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.