This story has been updated.
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – A long-term veteran of the Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps remains on suspension from the corps while officials consider complaints that he sexually harassed female corps members as well as patients.
A group of six current and former corps members said they planned to file a complaint Thursday with the state Human Rights Commission stating that the man, whose identity is being withheld because no criminal charges have been filed, made inappropriate comments about their underwear, unwanted physical advances and photographed vulnerable female patients. In one case, the women said, he left an intoxicated patient’s breast exposed while he complimented the woman on her appearance.
“I felt very uncomfortable and bad for the patient and, after a long while on the way to the hospital knowing he was not covering the patient's breast, I put a sheet over her breast without asking or saying anything,” a female corps volunteer said in a notarized statement in July.
The statement also alleged that the ambulance corps member made her uncomfortable several times by rubbing her feet or touching her shoulders.
Stephen Lewis, the lawyer for the accused man, called the claims "Kafka-esque" and a conspiracy. He said his client had not even been given a chance to review the allegations made against him.
Former Lt. Murat Turk and former Capt. Bridget Connelly made the decision to suspend the man from the corps eight months ago. The suspension meant the accused member could not ride on calls, could not enter the Ambulance Corps building and could not communicate with corps members
Only the corps’ board of directors can remove him from service permanently. The board heard testimony from 11 members on Jan. 25.
Another woman, whose name The Daily Tarrytown is not using, spoke out against the corps member at the January board meeting and later submitted a statement about her testimony. The woman said since she joined the corps in 1998, she “either witnessed or received unsolicited and unwanted sexual comments from the man,” including questions about what type of underwear she had on or what a patient looked like naked.
The woman noted in her testimony that she reported the member's behaviors to then-Capt. Robert Hoyt though nothing changed.
The ambulance corps volunteer, a 65-year-old Tarrytown man, has been suspended since July after a female member alleged sexual harassment. In January, the 11 member board voted on whether to dismiss him from the corps entirely. He was not removed.
Officials in the volunteer ambulance corps said the matter is still ongoing and they cannot discuss a confidential matter.
“We're having hearings at the board level about it,” said Mike Farley, the captain of the Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “It's not done yet. We've only heard one side of the story.”
Another ambulance board member, Fred Mauhs, said the matter was still subject to proceedings within the ambulance corps board.
“I can't comment at all as long as TVAC is still involved with the proceedings,” he said.
The ambulance corps is an independent organization that does not receive financial support from the village. Village Administrator Michael Blau noted that the sole connection is the Service Award program, which is similar to a pension plan.
“They own their own building and all of their equipment,” he said.
The Daily Tarrytown learned about the allegations from Murat Turk, a lieutenant within the corps who is on a leave of absence, and several of the women who have reported that they were sexually harassed.
“Anyone trying to do the right thing in this case becomes an enemy,” Turk said. Turk said he has experienced retaliation for bringing forward sexual harassment allegations from himself and other women in the corps.
He said several of the women have reported the member's actions to police and the Westchester County District Attorney's Office, but no charges have been filed.
Turk said he decided to take a leave of absence from the corps because of the board’s inaction on the matter. Turk said he personally witnessed the man violate health privacy laws by taking photos of patients.
The accused corps member and Jacy Dobson, president of the Ambulance Corps Board of Directors, did not respond to telephone messages and could not be reached at the time of publication.
While the captain, Farley, declined to speak specifically about the allegations, he did say that he thought Turk “had no right to go to the press.”