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Sexual Harassment Allegations Filed Against Waukesha Fire Chief

City leaders seek Jesse Alba's dismissal only a few months after he was promoted to the top position.

Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba
Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba
Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba is accused of threatening a female employee, who he told he loved, with the loss of her job because he was no longer able to focus on his work, according to a complaint filed against him.

Alba told the woman he would force her out if he was made fire chief, according the the complaint. However, the woman did not return Alba's affections, the complaint states. 

City officials are seeking Alba's dismissal based on policy violations and are asking the Police and Fire Commission to remove him from office.

Fire Chief Fighting Allegations

Documents were released to Patch Wednesday. The chief's lawyer has said he will fight the allegations.

"Concerning the Statement of Charges that has been released by the City of Waukesha, Chief Jesse Alba’s contention is that the Statement of Charges does not mention, or even reference, the information that he offered to the investigator and city officials during the investigation," said Victor Plantinga, Alba's attorney. "This information discredited the individuals whom the city is relying on to establish these charges.  

"The credibility of these individuals is not 'here nor there' as City Administrator Ed Henschel has asserted in the media. As anyone who reads the Statement of Charges can determine, the city’s contentions are based solely on statements from individuals and nothing else.  Whether these individuals were truthful with the investigator is not a peripheral consideration as Mr. Henschel implies.  

"It is troubling that the city claims that it is difficult for Chief Alba to manage his department because of the attention that has been focused on this, yet the city is contributing to this by making statements to the press and holding press conferences. This matter will be heard before the Fire and Police Commission. The commission will hear the evidence and render a decision. It is not our intention to try this matter in the press. It is unfortunate that the city is not taking this same approach to this sensitive matter."

The complaint filed against the fire chief by Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima alleges that the fire chief violated several policies in the city, including the anti-harassment policy, the core values statement, administrative statement and the Waukesha Fire Department’s rules of conduct.

The mayor is asking the Police and Fire Commission to place Alba on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. City Administrator Ed Henschel said if it was up to him, he would have suspended Alba immediately.

Under state statutes, the Police and Fire Commission makes all decisions regarding hiring, disciplining and terminating fire and police chiefs.

“If it was up to me as mayor, he would be fired,” Scrima said.

The allegations came forward after Alba was sworn in as fire chief in May. Alba was promoted to fire chief by the PFC on May 7 after being selected out of 49 applicants. 

“We are extremely saddened by this situation. … We look forward to a conclusion and relief,” Scrima said. “What will come out of this? We will restore integrity to the City of Waukesha Fire Department.”

Employee Resigns at Husband's Request

The woman, who the complaint says told a co-worker she was happily married and was not interested in Alba, voluntarily resigned on June 1, according Henschel.

“My understanding is that she resigned on June 1 due to a request by her husband, who said ‘I don’t want you around this man,’” Henschel said.

Henschel said the fire chief's "romantic infatuation" led to the allegations, WISN 12 News is reporting.

Alba Says Woman Affecting His Ability to Work, Complaint Alleges

Alba, throughout the past several years, developed a close friendship with two female department employees. The three would frequently eat out together, had highly personal conversations and exchanged gifts, the complaint alleges, but they also included their spouses for various events.

However, things changed in 2012 when Alba started sharing about marital problems and the woman provided support, the complaint alleges. During this time, Alba believed he fell in love with one of the woman and told her on March 22 that he could smell her perfume in the fire station and that he couldn’t get her off his mind, which was affecting his ability to focus on work and the fire chief interviews, according to the complaint.

Alba told the woman they were meant to be together and if she did not resign, he would force her to leave if he was appointed fire chief because it was not possible for him to work with her under the circumstances, according to the complaint. 

Allegations Didn't Come to Light During Promotion Process

The third-party investigation into Fire Chief Jesse Alba started less than two weeks after he was sworn into office after several fire department staff members noticed strange behaviors during the ceremony. The allegations did not come to light during the interview process.

The woman involved sent a battalion chief a text message moments after Alba was promoted that the Police and Fire Commission's decision was "horrible" and she was "terribly devastated" by the decision, the complaint states.

The other woman's jaw dropped when the announcement was made, and she later indicated she thought he would never be promoted to fire chief, the complaint states.

The Police and Fire Commission asked in interviews in March days before Alba first told the woman about his feelings if there were "any events in your professional lie that may reflect negatively upon your performance or which would be awkward or embarrassing to us if reported upon by the news media," the complaint states. All fire chief candidates told the Police and Fire Commission there was not.

Preliminary Hearing Not Yet Scheduled

A preliminary hearing against Alba has not yet been scheduled by the Police and Fire Commission, although they have to hold the hearing within 30 days of the formal complaint being filed.

City leaders are asking the Police and Fire Commission to place Alba on administrative leave at that hearing.

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the 'sha guy July 31, 2013 at 04:04 PM
@Mr Lundt, They did hire a search committee. According to the city administrator in this press conference, there were several interviews with departmental employees and nothing was mentioned about this.
twister929 July 31, 2013 at 08:45 PM
What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty???
Greg August 01, 2013 at 01:00 AM
If he could not work there because she was there, why in hell didn't he quit?
© Steve August 01, 2013 at 01:34 AM
Power of the badge. Once you receive it the government flows through your blood.

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