A central Wisconsin police chief was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint after he allegedly made comments about an employee’s breasts while at a bar, asking one woman to flash him and asking an employee to change shirts with another woman who was wearing a more form-fitting top.
An investigation found no “legally actionable claim.” This month, the Everest Metro Police Joint Police Commission declined to bring any charges against Chief Clay Schulz, who remains on the job. Outside investigators with the von Briesen & Roper law firm found concerns “regarding Schulz’s performance and the Department’s culture that should be monitored and addressed.”
Schulz has been chief of the Everest Metro Police Department, which covers Weston and Schofield in the Wausau metropolitan area, since 2017.
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According to the investigation report, obtained by Wisconsin Public Radio in an open records request, Schulz was at a bar with colleagues when he made inappropriate sexual comments about the breasts of an employee and a male former employee’s partner. Schulz reportedly harassed the women along with the male former department employee, whose name is redacted in the documents released.
“Schulz and the former employee asked his partner to lift her shirt and show them her breasts,” the report states, and “asked (the female employee) and (the former employee’s partner) to switch shirts multiple times, as (the partner’s) shirt was more fitted.”
In a separate incident, Schulz allegedly told the same female employee that he and another member of the department talked about how attractive she is. According to the investigation report, Schulz and another male department employee each accused the other of saying, “I don’t know how you get any work done with that walking around.”
The female employee wrote to investigators that she “asked Chief Schulz if that was the reason I got my pay raise and he replied, ‘You’re taking it the wrong way, it was just men talking. I never should have told you.’”
A male department member, whose name is redacted in documents, said Schulz’s attitude toward the woman was inappropriate to the point that he directly asked Schulz whether he was having an affair with her.
Employees also told investigators that “people are so ‘fearful’ of Schulz’s temper and possible retaliatory actions for filing complaints, including employment termination.”
Schulz denied hearing or making any comments about an employee’s breasts, despite testimony to investigators by multiple witnesses. He denied asking the women to change shirts or to flash him. He denied making or hearing any comments about the female employee’s appearance in the office. He told investigators he believed the allegations were made in retaliation for the fact that Schulz made an employee cry during a meeting.
The investigation report uncovered other allegations, including a request by Schulz to a male employee that he send him nude or semi-nude photos of his wife from a recent beach vacation. That employee told investigators he felt he could not continue to work for Schulz given his inappropriate behaviors.
Investigators concluded that Schulz’s behavior was “highly unprofessional, (but) it was not physically threatening” and did not rise to the level of “a legally actionable claim of harassment.”
The Everest Metro Joint Police Commission allowed Schulz to remain on the job while the investigation was taking place, rather than placing him on administrative leave. This prompted criticism by the state’s largest police union, whose spokesperson said the commission failed to treat Schulz the way they would a “rank-and-file” member of the department.
In a response attached to the records release, Schulz called the allegations against him “frivolous” and wrote that he “categorically den(ies) any type of wrongdoing.”
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