Middletown police officer demoted, didn’t report sexual harassment claim

Sergeant demoted after not reporting sexual harassment

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (FOX19) - A Middletown police officer has been demoted because he didn’t report a sexual harassment claim made by two female police officers against another detective in the department.

An internal investigation was launched by the Middletown Police Department against Sgt. Mark Sam Allen.

Acting Police Chief Major Andy Warrick sent a letter to Allen on Feb. 4 which talked about the sexual harassment allegations and the behavior of another officer, and it said that Allen failed to report those allegations.

The officer at the center of the incident, Brandon Highley, resigned in Nov. 2019.

It happened at an Ohio Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Conference in Columbus in 2018.

One female officer said Highley, “cornered me several times trying to kiss me and tried sticking his hand down my pants.”

As part of the investigation, there is a text message to Allen where the officer told him what happened.

Another allegation was reported to Allen in 2019 where another female officer said Allen witnessed Highley, “made several derogatory remarks of a sexual nature and calling her every bad name he could think of.”

According to the letter from the acting police chief, Allen said to the female officer, “Let it go".

In response, Allen explained why he did not report the sexual allegations.

At a hearing in December, he argued the contact was not “sexual harassment” because it did not happen at work and “it was an informal conversation between social acquaintances.”

The city did not agree with that assertion and said as a supervisor, the incident should have been reported and it was not up to Allen to decide if it was sexual harassment or not.

Allen’s demotion to patrol officer was effective Feb. 4.

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