View Full Version : Black FDNY rookie sues after ‘sexual hazing’ by nude firefighters

The Bobster
01-22-2017, 08:45 AM

Black FDNY rookie sexually hazed by nude firefighters: suit
By Dean Balsamini and Susan Edelman
January 22, 2017 | 6:02am

Gordon Springs, 27
Angel Chevrestt

They were naked, he was afraid. :rolleyes:

A black :confused: FDNY rookie expecting a warm welcome at his new firehouse was instead sexually hazed and humiliated by a band of naked firefighters, according to a shocking federal discrimination lawsuit.

It was the beginning of a series of horrific incidents meant to make the rookie’s life so miserable he would quit, the suit alleges. The disturbing case is now being probed by the US Department of Justice, a source close to the matter has said.

On May 4, 2015, the day before his graduation from the Fire Academy, probationary firefighter Gordon Springs, 27, and three fellow probies went to their new firehouse, Ladder Co. 35/Engine Co. 40 near Lincoln Center, known as The Cavemen.

Longstanding FDNY custom dictates that probies, bearing desserts, visit their new units for a welcome tour. Springs brought a cake.

“This was about visiting the firehouse, meeting the firefighters and meeting the new family,” the source said.

As the probies entered the Amsterdam Avenue firehouse, firefighter Peter Grillo whispered to Springs, “Our house is really gay :p,” according to the lawsuit.

Springs claims the probies were led to the gym, where four naked smoke-eaters — two identified in the complaint as Charles Swift and Pedro Aristy — were waiting.

Aristy ordered Springs to lie down on a workout bench, the suit says. The rookie, shaken, tried to leave, but the door was “forcibly held shut” by firefighters.

“Frozen stiff” with fear, Springs did as he was told. Aristy stood over the prone probie and “moved his penis and testicles close” to his face, then plopped them onto his forehead :D, according to court papers.

The legal papers do not say if the other probies — two white, one black — were sexually assaulted.

In the months that followed, Springs would be “singled out time and time again” because he was African-American :rolleyes:, the suit claims.

Aristy allegedly told Springs, “I don’t like you . . . blacks getting on the job this way. You don’t have good work ethic.”

The comments were a reference to the priority hiring of minorities following a federal court order that the FDNY diversify its ranks. The FDNY remains under a federal monitor.

The diatribe continued, Springs alleges, with Aristy screaming, “I could punch you in the face and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you called [the FDNY’s Equal Employment Opportunity office], everyone in the firehouse would keep their mouth shut and EEO wouldn’t find anything. Then, after everyone realized you called EEO, the real fun would begin.”

Springs was too “scared” to call the police, his lawyer said.

The alleged abuse continued:

•On June 3, 2015, Aristy clocked Springs over the head with a loaf of bread, calling him a “s–tbag” for missing a Medal Day ceremony, the suit alleges. He was forced to sweep the firehouse for his entire shift.

•On June 29, 2015, Springs was ordered to climb up the brass fire pole as firefighters identified as “Rix and Sanchez” threw buckets of water and breadcrumbs on him, the complaint says. He fell and injured his back.

•In February 2016, Springs returned to the firehouse to gather his belongings ahead of a five-day retraining assignment. He found his gear stomped on and the chest area of his uniform “stabbed,” the suit says. When he reported the incident to bosses, he was “punished” with 22 added days of retraining, the suit says.

The suit alleges the “desecrated” uniform was in retaliation for Springs filing complaints with the FDNY’s EEO office and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in October 2015.

Springs was transferred twice by the FDNY. But, branded a rat, a “ ‘Scarlet Letter’ . . . follows him around like a shadow” to each new firehouse, the lawsuit says.

In October, The Post learned that five firefighters and two officers had been disciplined for violating the FDNY’s “zero tolerance” hazing policy at Ladder 35/Engine 40. The seven lost pay and vacation days, and by accepting the punishments avoided administrative trials and public attention.

The FDNY at the time refused to name the firefighters, specify what they did or comment on any racial motivations.

Firefighters at Springs’ current unidentified firehouse posted a clipping of that Post story on the bulletin board.

In November, the federal EEOC determined there was “reasonable cause” to believe Springs was the victim of sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

One FDNY officer brushed it off as harmless horseplay.

“There’s a culture in the firehouse when you’re a new guy. Somebody’s feelings get hurt and all of a sudden it’s hazing,” the officer said. “It’s bulls–t.”

But Springs’ lawyer, Paul Liggieri, disagreed.

“The department can style this case as a hazing incident, but what happened to my client . . . was a sexual assault,” he said.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It names Lt. Edward Vreeland, Grillo, Swift, Aristy, the city and FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro as defendants. The defendants did not comment or would not return messages seeking comment.

The FDNY referred inquiries to the city Law Department, which said it was reviewing the complaints.