Firing Upheld For Trooper Who Asked to See Boobs
This story, originally posted at Courthouse News Service, was submitted by Joe.
ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) – A state appeals court upheld the firing of a state trooper accused of requesting sexual favors from four women he stopped for traffic infractions. The unanimous ruling from the five-judge panel concluded “that petitioner’s guilt is supported by the record” and so the decision to fire him “will not be disturbed.”
“Finally, considering the nature of petitioner’s conduct, the penalty of termination does not shock our sense of fairness,” said the opinion written by Presiding Justice Karen Peters of the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court, Third Department.
Trooper Jeffrey C. Salatel sought a judicial review of his firing in an Article 78 petition filed against the New York State Police. The case was brought in Albany County Supreme Court, but was transferred to the Appellate Division, which often hears appeals from decisions made by state agencies and boards.
The appeals court noted Salatel lost his job as a trooper following a disciplinary hearing that recommended he be found guilty of 10 charges of misconduct for his interactions with four women during traffic stops between May 2008 and November 2009.
The charges included criminal misconduct and receiving bribes, according to the appeals court, as well violations of departmental regulations against sexual harassment.
The four women who testified at the hearing described suggestions of sexual favors to avoid speeding tickets. At one of the traffic stops, the appeals court noted, a woman said she was “repeatedly asked” by Salatel to “show me your boobs” after she asked not to be given a ticket.
At another stop, a woman said Salatel told her she was “a very pretty young girl” and requested she get into his patrol car. There, “he pushed the car seat all the way back, he began adjusting his belt, and again asked her to work with him and stated that she was not ‘helping me help you.'”
The other two women “similarly testified that petitioner offered them a chance to avoid being issued a ticket,” the appeals court said. He told one of them “that she should ‘try to sell yourself to get out of the ticket.'”
The justices noted Salatel denied any wrongdoing at the traffic stops, but said they would not second-guess the findings from the disciplinary hearing.
The board that held the hearing recommended Salatel’s firing to the State Police superintendent, who concurred.
Salatel was fired in February 2011, according to The Daily Gazette in Schenectady. The newspaper reported that Salatel, who spent about a decade as a trooper, worked out of the State Police barracks in Fultonville, located about an hour west of Albany in Montgomery County. It said the traffic stops involving the four women occurred along the New York State Thruway.
Salatel now works as an armored-car driver, according to the newspaper.He was represented in the appeal by James Tuttle of The Tuttle Law Firm in Latham. Paul Groenwegen of the attorney general’s office argued for the State Police.