Perry Township officials aren’t dealing just with an embarrassing incident involving two police officers. Former Police Chief Tim Escola also has dragged them into the legal minefield called sexual harassment.
Because these aren’t any two police officers. At the time of the June 2 incident that has the township buzzing, they were boss and subordinate.
What Escola and part-time officer Janine England did in view of the on-board camera in a Perry cruiser is inexplicably dumb, but that’s not the serious issue at hand.
In the eyes of the law, it may not matter who kissed whom first in the cruiser during a trip to the Cincinnati area and back June 2.
What matters is that Escola didn’t put a stop to it and say in no uncertain terms that it was inappropriate behavior for him and his employee.
The underpinning of sexual harassment policies and laws is the unequal power between employer and employee, with all the potential for favoritism and retribution that a sexual entanglement would create.
Escola abruptly retired Tuesday night, less than a week after township trustees got wind of the June 2 incident through an anonymous tip. Though he may have to deal with reverberations in his private life, his resignation puts him conveniently out of the township’s legal picture.
What’s left for Perry trustees and their legal advisers is to ensure that the township’s policy on sexual harassment is thorough, and that all township employees are thoroughly trained to avoid creating problems in this explosive area.
WHAT’S BEHIND THE NUMBERS?
In the continuing drama of state budget negotiations, Senate President Bill Harris has scheduled hearings, starting today, on Gov. Ted Strickland’s plan to put slot machines in the seven racetracks in the state.
Whatever the political implications of this kind of challenge by Senate Republicans to Democrat Strickland’s plan, hearings are a sensible move.
Of course legislators should know how Strickland arrived at his prediction that slots would bring in nearly $1 billion in revenue for state government over the next two years. An Ohio Department of Taxation analysis says the prediction is much too optimistic.
And if revenue falls short, what happens to the recipients of that revenue, Ohio’s public schools?
On the other hand, what if the governor makes a good case? That presents a political risk for Harris and other Senate Republicans who oppose the plan, too.