Tisbury officer files MCAD charge
The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) last week notified the town of Tisbury and the Tisbury Police department that it has begun an investigation into a complaint of sexual discrimination, harassment, and retaliation filed by Tisbury Police Officer Kelly R. Kershaw.
Barbara Green, assistant to MCAD chairman Malcolm S. Medley, told The Martha's Vineyard Times that copies of Officer Kershaw's complaint, dated April 7, were served to the town of Tisbury, the Tisbury Police Department, and Sergeant Timothy Stobie, who is named in the complaint.
This week selectmen confirmed that the case has been referred to the town's lawyer.
In her two-page complaint, Ms. Kershaw, a full-time police officer hired in August 2004, accuses Sergeant Stobie of sexual harassment. In addition, she claims that she was subjected to a pattern of harassment and work actions not applied to male officers.
Ms. Kershaw alleges that Chief John Cashin and town administrator John Bugbee ignored requests to address her complaints and attempted to force her to quit her job.
As a next step in the MCAD process, Ms. Green said an investigator would review evidence and gather information. Although MCAD's goal is to resolve cases within 18 months, it depends on the complexities involved, she said.
"Sometimes complainants don't want to wait that long," Ms. Green added. "At any time a complainant can remove a case from our agency and engage a lawyer and take it to court. Sometimes that happens, and before we reach the stage where a case is adjudicated from our agency, the case is settled."
This week all parties involved in the complaint would say little.
"I can confirm it is true: I did file a complaint with MCAD, but I can't say anything right now, because at this point, it is under investigation," Officer Kershaw said in a phone call last Friday.
Police Chief John Cashin said he forwarded the copy of the MCAD complaint he received on April 28 to Mr. Bugbee, who oversees all municipal employees. In a phone call Tuesday, Chief Cashin said he had no comment about the complaint because it is under investigation and will be handled through the town's human resources personnel and legal counsel.
Mr. Bugbee was out of the country on vacation this week and unavailable for comment.
Sgt. Stobie was also on vacation and could not be reached. He has served as a full-time Tisbury police officer since 1989. In June 2006 he was appointed acting chief of police by the selectmen after former Chief Ted Saulnier retired, following several months of failed contract negotiations. Sergeant Stobie served as acting chief until September, when Chief Cashin assumed his new duties.