Provo responds to sexual harassment lawsuit against former chief, city

Apr 19, 2018, 12:55 PM | Updated: 11:29 pm

PROVO, Utah — Provo City’s lawyer has filed a response to a lawsuit brought against the city and former Provo police chief claiming they were sexually harassed. The suit says the city failed to prevent misconduct or discipline Chief John King after the allegations came to light in 2015 and 2016. The lawsuit also claims the city hired King without investigating his sudden departure from previous jobs.

In their filing Thursday, the city asks the court to dismiss the complaints against them. Heather White, the city’s lawyer, stands by how city officials handled multiple allegations against John King, including his hiring.

King was hired in 2013. Questions about his hiring came to light after his resignation in 2017, when he was accused of sexual harassment for a third time.  It was discovered that he had previously abruptly resigned from two high profile positions on the East Coast. Provo City said they did not receive any information about this from the outside company who they commissioned for the hiring process.

“The investigations that were conducted: the polygraphs, the psychological evaluations, the interviews, the criminal background checks, all the number of things that I mentioned to you was a reasonable investigation. Now did something get by that investigation? It may have. We don’t know. We know what the plaintiffs allege,” White said.

In addition, the city is defending themselves saying they responded swiftly and appropriately to address the three allegations of misconduct against King while he was chief. The first two instances they say they investigated and there wasn’t sufficient evidence against him. While he denied them, the city required him to participate in additional training. When the third came about, the city asked him to resign even though criminal charges were not filed.

More allegations have since been brought against him. No criminal charges have been filed.

Under a new mayor and police chief, White says the city continues to bolster their no tolerance sexual harassment policy and hopes alleged victims won’t be scared to speak up.

“The city does not have a culture of harassment or discrimination on the contrary this city has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” she said.

King has his own lawyer in this case. We have reached out to them for a response. The city’s attorney tells us their response will impact what’s next in this litigation process.

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Provo responds to sexual harassment lawsuit against former chief, city