Latest News

Civil claim names city, firefighters

A civil claim filed Wednesday adds a new version of an alleged sexual assault by firefighters at the Porn Star Costume Ball, a day after the city of Sacramento released details of the July event and other misconduct.

The claim, a precursor to a civil lawsuit, seeks unspecifieddamages and names the city and firefightersThomas Mitchell and Scott Singleton. It alsolists other, unnamed individuals. If the claim is notanswered within 45 days, a lawsuit can be filed.

The filing alleges that on July 2, a 24-year-oldphotographer, who is not named, was repeatedlysexually assaulted by Mitchell and Singleton in atruck outside the Radisson Hotel.

Neither could be reached for comment.

Though the allegations prompted a wider internalinvestigation into the department, the SacramentoCounty District Attorney's Office decidedthere was insufficient evidence to file criminal sexualassault charges against the firefighters.

The woman's attorney, Wendy York, said her clientwas dismayed by the wayshe and the alleged assaultwere portrayed to the public by the city andthe Fire Department.

"They omitted things, such as being a photographer,that caused a false impression to be created ofher," York said Wednesday.

The woman, who knew Singleton from anotherevent, was taking pictures of people at the ball, butwent outside to photograph the firefighters on theirtruck where she was then assaulted, according tothe claim. When another person approached thetruck, she fled, the claim said.

"The city of Sacramento andthe Sacramento Fire Departmenthave had policies in place wherecaptains and firefighters were permittedto take trucks and enginetrucks to bars and parties, andwith captains present, pick upwomen and taking women ontheir trucks," the claim said.

"The City of Sacramento andSacramento Fire Department firefighterstook advantage of theirstatus as firefighters and thepost-9/11 public sentiment perceptionthat firefighters are 'heroes,'" the claim said.

Singleton was one of five firefighterswho got their jobs backafter being sent termination letters.

The letters were released Tuesdayat the request of The Bee andinclude accounts of drinking onduty, using fire engines for barhopping and giving women joyrides.

The investigation appeared tohave culminated in October,when Sacramento Fire Chief Julius"Joe" Cherry announced at apress conference that nine firefightershad been terminated orhad resigned.

Two days later, he signed lettersreinstating five of them, thedocuments obtained by The Beeshow.

The letters from Cherry savedthe jobs of Singleton, ApparatusOperator Charles D. Clayborne,Firefighter Anthony Ramirez andFirefighter Troy Doehrer. As punishment,each received 240 hoursof unpaid suspensions.

Firefighter Patrick Willard alsogot his job back; he received 120hours of suspension without pay.All five were allowed to have thetime taken from their vacationpay.

Mitchell and Firefighter DanielKennedy resigned rather than befired. Two captains are appealingtheir terminations.

Explaining their reinstatement,Cherry said in a Novembertelephone interview that the fivewere "salvageable employees."

He declined interview requestsby The Bee this week about thetermination letters.

Sacramento Superior CourtJudge Thomas M. Cecil on Tuesdaydenied a request by the firefightersunion to block release ofthe letters. The letters show howthe disciplined firefighters falsifiedreports, confronted colleaguesabout statements to investigatorsand "failed to respondtruthfully, fully, and honestly"in interviews.

Deputy City Manager RichardRamirez said the union and itsmembers cooperated with the investigation.

The the letters of terminationmake it clear that firefighterstestified against otherfirefighters, and even providedevidence of their own misconduct,Ramirez said.

The city and department havesaid the rogue activity is limitedcompared with the more than500 city firefighters who do theirjobs honorably.

"When we talk about this,we're talking about a very smallgroup of a people and not the hundredsthat are on the job everynight," Councilwoman SandySheedy said Wednesday.

The documents released Tuesdayshow that among that smallgroup, the unauthorized activitywas not a one-time event.

While the Porn Star CostumeBall generated the most notoriety,the documents show firefightersat Station 6 in Oak Parkrepeatedly used engines to cruisebars and pick up women.

On the night of June 25, theytook out two engines, promptinga citizen to write a letter of complaintabout the misuse of cityequipment.

Four firefighters - includingClayborne and Ramirez - cruisedmidtown bars in the bright red-and-white Engine 6. At their firststop, Ink Eats & Drinks, theypicked up four women and gavethem a ride.

After a short cruise by the BlueCue at 2730 J St., Harlow's Restaurant& Night Club at 2708 J St.and Empire Nightclub at 1417 RSt., they dropped off the womenand headed to the Zebra Club at1900 P St., picking up two morefemale riders.

After a short joy ride, the Engine6 crew returned to the ZebraClub, dropped off the two and retrievedthe four women from Ink.

Outside the Zebra Club, the Engine6 crew met four more ondutyfirefighters from Engine 1,who gave "unauthorized rides totwo females," the documentsstate. Engine 1 is based at Station1 downtown.

Fire officials Wednesday refusedto release any informationabout any discipline given to Engine1 firefighters.

The Engine 6 crew picked uptwo more women at the ZebraClub. The letter addressed to firefighterAnthony Ramirez states,"During this ride, two femalesrode on your lap and were notfully seat belted."

A total of six women wereaboard when Engine 6 took aquick trip around the block. Thistime, Clayborne, who's assignedto drive, sat in the back cab withthe unauthorized passengers. Afterdropping off two women atthe Zebra Club, the firefightersand the remaining four wentback to Station 6.

From the station house, the engineresponded to a structurefire, a grass fire and a vehicle fire.The four women rode along,speeding through city streetswith red light flashing and sirensounding.

At the structure fire, AnthonyRamirez told the women to"duck down in the cab, so thatthey would not be seen by a ChiefOfficer."

Their activity did not go unnoticed.A woman at the Zebra Clubconfronted the firefighters.

She asked the crew why theywere giving rides to the women.The termination letters state,"She commented she did not likethe way her tax dollars were beingspent."

The next weekend, firefightersattending the Porn Star CostumeBall generated more complaints,including the allegation of a sexualassault, leading to the biggestinternal investigation in the department's131-year history.

About the writer: