A new investigation is underway into recent allegations of sexual harassment in the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.
Those allegations came from the department's Women's Program Officer in a scathing resignation letter.
Battalion Chief Kathleen Stanley's complaints aren't just about sexual harassment from other firefighters, like the one who was using a penis-shaped water battle at his station. Her complaints point straight to the top, to the fire chief.
WUSA9 found documented complaints against the fire chief that go back two years...and a week before a woman firefighter took her own life after she was bullied online.
Days before Fairfax County firefighter Nicole MIttendorff committed suicide in April of 2016, her body found in Shenandoah National Park on April 21, another woman firefighter complained about how she was being treated...directly to Fire Chief Richard Bowers.
An email from firefighter Jennifer Pickett sent on May 13, 2016, says she complained about Guy Morgan, who investigated workplace behavior as head internal affairs. Morgan was later forced out later, after WUSA9 exposed dozens of lewd postings on his Facebook Page.
After Nicole's death, Jessica Pickett wrote to other firefighters, and Bowers: "On April 14th, I made Fire Chief Bowers aware of the bullying tactics and unprofessional actions taken by Mr. Morgan, however, nothing was done about it until weeks later when the press became aware of his illicit behavior."
She states that she also told the chief about unprofessional behavior by the Deputy Chief Jason Jenkins, "yet he continues to be an active member of this task force?" she asks. "This is highly disturbing to me..."
Last week, Kathleen Stanley, the woman Battalion Chief who Chief Richard Bowers appointed in 2017 as Women's Program Officer resigned. Her bruising letter accuses chief Bowers and his leadership team of tolerating sexual harassment and retaliation, and listed specific incidents.
On Monday, the county executive announced in a statement that he is investigating Kathleen Stanley's allegations. Fairfax county Supervisor John Cook is head of the public safety committee."The issues raised in the Stanley letter are serious and our board felt that those issues should be investigated from someone not in the fire department chain of command. And so we asked the County Executive to conduct that investigation," said Cook.
County Executive Bryan Hill stated that, "our goal is to ensure each allegation made by Battalion Chief Stanley is reported, investigated and reviewed in accordance with Fairfax County policies and procedures."
Former firefighter and fire safety advocate Dave Statter says more needs to be done. "You have allegations against the leadership of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. The only way to establish if these allegation have any merit, is to get somebody from the outside looking in. When you chose the leaders there, you can't have the leaders investigate themselves," said Statter.
Kathleen Stanley says that, "judging from the overwhelming support I have received from across the country, this topic has struck a familiar cord with hundreds of people, men and woman alike. My only hope is that our department can find a way to lead the country in creating an environment that can be replicated nationally."