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Hearings set for Fire Dept. members in sex scandal

Union chief Joe Schulle complains that systemic problems remain unaddressed.

Union president Joe Schulle says he still hasn't the seen the full report on the investigation. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Union president Joe Schulle says he still hasn't the seen the full report on the investigation. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERRead more

DISCIPLINARY hearings are to begin Tuesday for seven Philadelphia Fire Department members implicated in a sex scandal.

But the closed proceedings are likely to shed little light on any systemic problems underlying allegations that a troubled young paramedic was coerced into countless unwanted sexual encounters after she joined the department in 2011.

That's because the city Inspector General's Office, which investigated the scandal and recommended discipline, focused on the men in question rather than on the department as a whole, said Joe Schulle, president of the union representing the city's firefighters and paramedics.

Schulle still hasn't seen the full report, despite filing a right-to-know request for it and an unfair-labor-practice complaint against the city for withholding it. But Schulle said Inspector General Amy Kurland told him the report didn't tackle systemic problems. Kurland has declined to publicly comment on the report.

"It leaves a huge gap in the investigation," said Schulle, who heads Philly's International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22.

Systemic problems unaddressed include the department's failure to train members on sensitivity and sexual harassment and a departmental crackdown on fraternization when there is no anti-fraternization policy, Schulle said.

Seven men were recommended for discipline, including battalion chiefs Richard Bossert and James Renninger; fire Capt. Robert Taylor; fire Lt. Albert Saunders; paramedic Patrick Carey; and firefighters Theodore Speights and Joseph Taylor.

All are charged with "any conduct which adversely affects the morale or efficiency of the bureau to which an employee is assigned, or any conduct which has a tendency to destroy public respect for municipal employees and confidence in the operation of municipal services." Others also face charges including neglect of duty.

But the paramedic at the center of the scandal never complained about Bossert, who had no sexual relationship with her, or about Renninger, who dated her consensually, sources said.

The paramedic has complained that she was a reluctant participant in countless coerced liaisons, some of which her colleagues captured on film and shared without her permission, sources said.