Newton Police Chief Matthew Cummings kicked and verbally harassed his former secretary in 2010, according to findings released today from an independent investigation.
Cummings, who has been with the department for more than 30 years, was placed on paid administrative leave today and Mayor Setti Warren has initiated the process of Cummings' removal.
"I am deeply disappointed," Warren said during a press conference this afternoon at City Hall. "I was shocked to read the allegations."
Warren told reporters he received the results of the investigation last night and this morning asked Cummings to leave.
The investigation into Cummings' behavior began May 22, Warren said, a day after he received a letter from attorney John Tocci alleging that his client, former Newton Police Executive Secretary Jeanne Sweeny Mooney, had been verbally harassed and kicked by Cummings in 2010.
Mooney is currently facing larceny charges out of Framingham District Court on allegations from the Newton Police that she stole $660 from the department as well as destroyed $1,500 in checks and a schedule of the fee payments. She is scheduled for arraignment Sept. 24.
Mooney claims the theft charges are retaliation for her civil claims against Cummings. According to the Boston Globe, Mooney has been on paid administrative leave since September and recently filed a complaint with the city demanding $600,000 in damages.
Both Warren and City Solicitor Donnalyn Kahn underlined that city's investigation of Cummings' behavior was completely separate from any criminal cases involving Mooney.
"Just so I can make perfectly clear, while some people may connect in their minds these two separate proceedings that are going forward, they are in no way, shape or form connected," Kahn said. "Although they may involve the same parties, they are completely different and separate."
Springfield attorney Edward R. Mitnick conducted the investigation of Cummings, which included interviews with 10 witnesses.
According to a summary of the investigation, there was "sufficient credible evidence" that Cummings made "inappropriate and offensive comments" to Mooney.
In the report, Mitnick says Cummings called Mooney a "bitch" and, in a separate comment, said, "I think you look like a whore."
Although Mitnick says the comments were not malicious or hostile, they were nonetheless "boorish, disrespectful and insulting" and that Cummings should be held to a high standard as a department head.
Mitnick's report also said there is "sufficient credible evidence" that Cummings kicked Mooney, causing a cut on the back of her foot. Again, Mitnick said the actions were not malicious but "disrespectful" and "inappropriate."
Allegations were also made that Cummings' was involved in video surveillance of Mooney and that he collected a salary raise without following the proper protocol. However, the investigation found that there was "no credible evidence" to support those allegations.
Cummings, who had a salary of $123,817, was appointed chief in 2009. Officials said there was never any other complaint made against him in his three decades at the department.
According to Kahn, Cummings' termination will have no effect on his ability to collect a pension, as the allegations are not serious enough to withhold that benefit.
Warren said he will initiate the search for the next chief "as quickly as possible." The process the city follows is specifically outlined in a state law and requires the formation of a committee.
When asked about the reaction from other department members, Acting Chief Mintz said morale was "good" and that he was "honored" to be appointed as acting chief.
Mintz said the department will be "vigilant" with employee behavior and will continue to participate in regular training headed up by the city's Human Resources Department.
"I think, as the mayor pointed out, the department shouldn't be painted with one brush," Mintz said. "We have an excellent record...we're proud of our personnel management."
According to a press release from the city, Mintz started with the Newton Police Department in 1984 as a patrolman. He has also served as commander of the patrol and support services bureau and, most recently, as commander of the traffic bureau.