14 Coral Gables police officers say city is ignoring sexual harassment claims
City receives anonymous letter claiming sexual misconduct against Chief Ed Hudak
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – It's not just Hollywood that's dealing with allegations of sexual harassment. In fact, it seems all is not pretty in the City Beautiful.
In this case of bad blood between the city administration and the police chief, 14 female officers are speaking out through their attorney and union president, claiming they're victims of sexual harassment, but no one is doing anything about it.
"This group of women have been sexually harassed and the city is turning a blind eye to them?" Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden asked the union's attorney, Osnat Rind.
"That's how they feel," Rind said.
Some call it police politics, but for 14 female officers, they said it's been torture.
"The city administration has decided to go ahead and investigate an anonymous complaint, which they have known for three months is baseless and have ignored the complaints of these women," Rind said.
The women claim that their suffering began over the summer after a photo surfaced on Instagram.
Rind believes that the photo was posted by a fake user, which shows the officers wearing bathing suits in a pool with their boss, Chief Ed Hudak, in the background.
"They hoped that he would show up, and all of them were actually happy and honored that he did," Rind said.
But weeks later, the city received an anonymous letter from a person who claimed to be at the party.
Officials said the letter was filled with allegations of sexual misconduct against the chief and sexually explicit comments about the women.
Similar derogatory remarks were also made on the Instagram post.
According to a collection of emails, the head of the police union asked city officials for an independent investigation in August, but it wasn't until earlier this month that officers sat down with the investigator.
"The city never reached out to any of them in three months just to ask them if they were OK," Coral Gables Police Union president John Baublitz said.
Baublitz shared an email with Local 10 News showing how the city is now paying $140 an hour to an independent investigator to get to the bottom of a situation that Baublitz said has no credibility.
"As the women have said themselves, they put their name and their face to this complaint, and they've been ignored," he said.
City officials declined Local 10's requests to go on camera, but after Seiden started asking questions, they added the item to Tuesday's agenda.
"What does this do to the morale of this Police Department?" Seiden asked Baublitz.
"It is demoralizing, and for these woman to say, 'I've been here for 25 years and I've never not trusted the city' -- now that's a very powerful and sad statement," he said.
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