By: Rebecca Turco
NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. – North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi released a lengthy independent report Monday, finding that the sexual harassment claims filed by the town are unfounded.
Lombardi described Lieutenant Diana Perez’s claims as: "Throw everything at the wall and hope that something will stick."
The findings from the months-long independent investigation also dismiss Perez’s gender discrimination and retaliation claims against the heads of the police department, which date back to 2012.
In one complaint, Perez says Acting Chief Christopher Pelagio started singing in front of her, "I like big butts and I cannot lie." In the report, Pelagio denies he meant this about Perez, saying the song was in his head from a movie he had just seen.
The mayor commissioned the investigation and the 74-page report – a roughly $40,000 price tag he says is taxpayer money well spent. The report also found the police department has an ongoing morale program.
The mayor says female employees should still feel welcome there. "I think it's a welcoming atmosphere for all of our employees if they come to work and just do their job, and not get involved in the inter-department, interoffice, the bantering," he explained.
Perez and one of her attorneys, Alberto Aponte Cardona, sat in the front row during Lombardi’s press conference Monday. “He couldn't even look at her," Cardona said of Lombardi.
"Not once did he look her in the face because this is nothing but antics,” Cardona continued, "To have to go through this, to be a woman and have to go through this, it's absolutely appalling. To have to have one of your body parts as an issue or factor in your employment that's degrading.”
Perez remains on leave from work. She is suing the town, Lombardi, Pelagio and Acting Deputy Chief Charles Davey. Cardona says the report released Monday has no bearing on their federal lawsuit.
Lombardi said Pelagio is still heading the police department for now.
© WLNE-TV 2017