The Suburbanite

  • Perry Township part-time police Officer Janine England kissed her job goodbye Tuesday, a week after a video surfaced of her kissing, caressing and massaging former Chief Timothy Escola while on duty in a police cruiser.

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  • Perry Township part-time police Officer Janine England kissed her job goodbye Tuesday, a week after a video surfaced of her kissing, caressing and massaging former Chief Timothy Escola while on duty in a police cruiser.
    England, 30, offered her resignation an hour before a special meeting, but trustees opted not to accept it. Trustees fired England for conduct unbecoming of a police officer instead.
    The township believes England “voluntarily participated with ... Escola ... in a continuing pattern of conduct,” which they say stretched from May 18 to June 25, when an anonymous source tipped off officials about the relationship.
    They also believe she received preferential treatment.
    England, hired April 13, was on probation for a year, which is typical of all new officers. Trustees, therefore, were not required to give a reason to fire her.
    They did anyway.
    England was “quite friendly in an inappropriate manner of a subordinate employee with a supervisor involved,” Law Director Charles Hall said.
    England, who had not reported to work since the incident became public, said in her statement she was looking to move forward.
    “Even though my work history with the police department was exemplary, due to the recent media attention to this matter I firmly believe this would be in the best interest of the Perry Police Department,” England wrote.
    Trustees accepted Escola’s resignation a week ago, but refrained from disciplining England at the time because it was unclear if she was a willing participant during the June 2 trip to Cincinnati.
    Escola and England traveled to Cincinnati to pick up a suspect wanted in a burglary. Charges were dropped the next day. More than eight hours of the trip was caught on an in-car video camera.
    The video shows England kissing and massaging Escola while he drives. She repeatedly checks the backseat to see if the prisoner is sleeping. Both England and Escola are married.
    Hall said the trip was “legitimate” police work, but that based on information he has obtained it is not common for chiefs to make such trips.
    Though the tape became the focal point of the incident, it was not the only factor in Hall’s recommendation to fire England. While trustees considered the case closed for the time being, Hall continued to investigate it amid growing media attention and public scrutiny.
    Hall said he needed to determine if Escola placed England in a hostile work environment.
    Hall reviewed pleadings in a harassment suit filed by England against the Montville Township Police Department in Medina County, watched more than eight hours of the in-car video, listened to the video’s audio, read e-mail exchanges, interviewed police officers and other township officials to determine that England was never in such an environment.
    Page 2 of 3 - “She never once came forward to another member of the department, the township administrator, to the law director either directly or through her attorney to say ‘I’m being subjected to unwanted harassment by a supervisor,’” Hall said. “All of those things combined lead me to the conclusion that this was a knowing, willing consensual relationship between a police officer, or I should say, between a woman and a man.”
    Based on a 2007 racial and sexual harassment lawsuit against officials of Montville Township, where she worked as a police officer, England was aware that such conduct must be reported to a supervisor, Hall said.
    Hall believes the conduct, or what he called an “affair,” began May 18 based on newly discovered e-mails between Escola and England.
    The e-mails, requested by The Independent and obtained Tuesday, were sent from England’s private e-mail account to Escola.
    England and Escola discussed everything from a tattoo England planned to get to professional baseball to problems England said she was having with other females at the department.
    “You are ever so kind,” England, writing from an e-mail account under her maiden name, told Escola in a May 4 note. “I really don’t know what more to say. I told you the day I first met you the day I lose compassion for people I will quit police work.
    “It is ever so easy to work for you,” the e-mail continues. “You make me want to ensure I do everything perfect.”
    England stops herself from saying more, closing the note with, “Lots more to say ... but I’ll save it for another time.”
    In another e-mail, England tells Escola, “I want you to shine. And I will do whatever it takes to make you look even better than you already do.
    “Life isn’t fair,” she wrote to her boss, “because if it was ... all new officers will have the privilege to work for you. You make me want to be the best ever. It just doesn’t even feel like a job ... a hobby I get paid for is more like it.”
    In between banter about New York Yankee legends Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle, Escola, too, praises England.
    “You are doing a wonderful job here,” he wrote on April 23. “As I have said over and over again, I am so proud of you Janine. You are a fantastic police officer. Don’t change a thing about yourself. You’re very smart, you have common sense, you are tough yet compassionate and you are very aggressive, which I love. You have a passion for this job and it shows. Keep up the good work. You’re the BEST and don’t forget it.”
    In one exchange, Escola tried to counsel England on paying the rent of a domestic violence victim she encountered on duty. Escola said he, too, once gave people money if they were in need.
    Page 3 of 3 - “It’s a good thing we’re not married,” he wrote. “We’d never have money for ourselves. We’d have to ask other people for money so we could go out to dinner.”
    In another exchange, Escola refers to England as “baby bear.”
    Hall believes England was given better assignments and better shifts than others after only a few weeks on the job.
    “As a part-time officer, she was assigned to some of the best day shifts, some of the most interesting and exciting out-of-department activities, such as the DUI stops and those types of things, and being preferred over some of the full time and other more experienced, longer seniority part-time officers,” Hall said.
    England is married to a sheriff’s deputy who works for her previous employer, the Medina County Sheriff’s Office. A native of Sri Lanka, England graduated from the police academy in 2004. Her firing ends another chapter in her short career in law enforcement.
    Escola, on the other hand, stepped down last week following a distinguished 36-year career in the field. He was chief for four years. Prior to coming to Perry Township, Escola held posts in Jackson Township, the State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Turnpike Commission.
    Hall said he is not sure if the township will face a lawsuit stemming from the case. Lee Plakas, an attorney representing England, did not return calls seeking comment.

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