UTICA, N.Y. -- An impartial arbitrator has ruled that a Utica firefighter should be fired, following an incident in January of last year, where the firefighter was accused of performing a sexual act on a female firefighter's uniform pants, which she was not wearing at the time.
Firefighter Richard Forte, and the union, argued that it was a simple property damage case, and not sexual harassment.
According to the Utica Corporation Counsel, the arbitrator disagreed.
Forte was terminated and off of the Utica Fire Department's payroll as of this week.
The criminal case against him is not yet resolved and is proceeding in city court.
International Association of Firefighters Local 32 (Utica City Firefighters) President Thomas Carcone released the following statement:
“Our Association’s job is to defend our members. While the arbitrator, in this case dismissed two of three charges, we will abide by his decision. IAFF Local 32 would like to assure the community that in no way, shape or form do we condone misconduct by any of our members. One of our former members was specially charged and found guilty of one charge brought by the City of Utica. That charge was specific to conduct unbecoming a member of the Bureau or Fire insofar as he did knowingly and intentionally damaged property belonging to a fellow firefighter. He was not charged at any time by the City of Utica for sexual harassment. We defended the case responding to the specific charge brought by the City of Utica. The Union assured the former member's due process as required by law was met. Ultimately, the arbitrator ruled to terminate the employee. We look forward to getting back to work and protecting the people of Utica.”