Thursday, October 21, 2004

Report accuses former officer


Wednesday, October 20, 2004

BELCHERTOWN (Massachusetts)- Former Police Officer Roy F. Bergeron sexually harassed at least seven female residents, some of them on an ongoing basis, and violated many rules of professional conduct over the past few years, according to a report detailing an internal investigation.

According to victim statements, Bergeron, 49, grabbed a woman's buttocks during a visit to her home and said he wanted to have sex with her. The woman had filed a missing person report two days earlier.
Another woman alleged Bergeron offered to help her with a credit card theft case if she would discuss it with him over drinks at a bar, the report said.

Bergeron was an officer here for 27 years before he was removed from the town payroll Oct. 1 following two closed-door selectmen meetings. Officials have refused to say why he left the town's employ.

The report, released yesterday, contains detailed statements from alleged victims; copies of personal e-mails, some of a sexual nature, that Bergeron exchanged with women while at work; lists of dating Web sites Bergeron visited; and images of naked women state police found on Bergeron's police station computer.

All seven women said Bergeron harassed them while he was on duty or in uniform.

The Belchertown department's internal investigation concluded Bergeron violated conditions of his employment through nine counts of sexual harassment. The investigation also found 17 counts of conduct unbecoming an officer, three counts of insubordination and six counts of neglect of duty, among other violations.

Citing the confidential nature of personnel issues, town labor lawyer Marc L. Terry refused comment. Police Chief Francis R. Fox could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Bergeron did not return a phone message left at his home.

Selectman Chairman Michael J. Reardon would not comment on details of the report. "The board heard the report in its entirety and a recommendation was made, and the board ... responded to the recommendations appropriately," he said.

Bergeron was placed on administrative leave Jan. 22. A state police investigation found insufficient evidence for a criminal charge against Bergeron for touching the woman's buttocks, the report said.

Bergeron was suspended from the force in 1986 after he was accused of sexual harassment. In 1997, he was put on administrative leave after allegations of rape, but a grand jury did not return an indictment against him.



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