Clermont sues Tisbury

Conspiracy, retaliation, discrimination are cited in federal complaint.

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In a Tisbury Police uniform Danielle Clermont displays her Boston Police Academy diploma. Clermont has filed a federal lawsuit against the Town of Tisbury and several individuals. — Danielle Clermont Facebook page

Former Tisbury Police candidate Danielle Clermont has filed suit in U.S. District Court against the town of Tisbury and several individuals. Clermont’s 11-count suit alleges she was discriminated against based on her sexual orientation and her gender, retaliated against, and deprived of her civil rights, among other allegations. The suit follows a Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination complaint filed in January that made many similar allegations. That complaint has been withdrawn. 

In addition to the town, the suit names Tisbury Police Sgt. Max Sherman as a defendant. This marks the second federal complaint Sherman has been subject to. In 2020, former Tisbury Police Sgt. Kindia Roman also sued Sherman. Clermont’s suit also names former Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Hanavan, former Tisbury select board member Jim Rogers (who wasn’t on the select board when events in the suit are alleged to have occurred), and West Tisbury Police Officer Jeremie Rogers, who is Jim Rogers’ son and a former Tisbury Police officer. The suit further names the Tisbury select board.

As The Times previously reported in December 2020, Clermont was frozen out of a job with the Tisbury Police Department in 2017, even though she had been sponsored by the Tisbury Police to attend the Boston Police Academy, and even though she had been given an assurance by then Chief Hanavan that the select board planned to appoint her as a police officer. When Clermont later sought employment at the Westwood Police Department, someone from the Tisbury Police Department allegedly reached out to Westwood Police Chief Jeffrey Silva and attempted to damage her reputation and sabotage her candidacy at that department. 

The suit alleges the reason Clermont was denied employment at the Tisbury Police Department was because Jim Rogers sent a “negative letter” about Clermont to the select board. The suit further alleges Sherman and Jeremie Rogers helped compose the letter. The complaint does not provide the letter, but states a records request has been made by Clermont’s attorneys, Jared and Tim Burke, in order to try to get it. The town previously denied having any letter, memo, email, or voicemail critical of Clermont, following a records request made by The Times. Jim Rogers previously denied writing any such letter about Clermont, and denied knowledge of any such letter written by anyone else. 

The suit alleges Clermont never got to see a copy of the negative letter. 

Under a conspiracy count, the suit alleges Sherman, Jim Rogers, and Jeremie Rogers “under the color of law and otherwise” subjected Clermont to humiliation, hardship, and anxiety by interfering with her employment process. 

Clermont declined to comment on the suit. 

Jeremie Rogers didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

In response to a text message seeking comment, Sherman wrote that he wanted to comment but was unable to do so. 

Havanan previously declined comment on Clermont. 

Tisbury town administrator Jay Grande said that after consultation with the law firm Melick and Porter, he “cannot comment on pending litigation.”

Grande acknowledged the town has received the lawsuit. 

Clermont’s suit alleges Sherman telephoned Chief Silva in an effort to wreck Clermont’s chances of employment with the Westwood Police Department 

The suit claims Clermont “determined” that Sherman “personally contacted Jeffrey Silva, the Westwood Chief of Police, in an effort to prevent Ms. Clermont from being hired by the Westwood Police.”

A footnote in the suit makes the unsupported assertion that The Times article “Whatever happened to Danielle Clermont?” revealed that Sherman called Chief Silva to defame Clermont. The article does not identify Sherman as the caller. However, like that article, the complaint points out Roman was subjected to a similar and successful attempt to ruin an employment prospect at another department, and that the person who ruined it allegedly spoke to that department from the Tisbury Police Department. As The Times reported in 2020, Roman alleged in an MCAD complaint that Sherman bragged to other officers that he’d told the Walpole Police Department, where Roman had applied, that Roman was gay and in a gay relationship. Roman’s ongoing federal lawsuit alleges that the relationship was with Clermont and that Sherman was behind the defamatory information. Roman’s lawsuit further alleged that Sherman “boasted” that he’d “torpedoed” Roman’s job opportunity.

Clermont’s suit blames three incidents of employment interference on Sherman. “Ms. Clermont alleges that Defendant Max Sherman deliberately and maliciously interfered with Ms. Roman’s application for employment with Walpole in the same manner he had done with Ms. Clermont’s attempts to seek employment with the Tisbury and Westwood Police Departments,” the suit states. 

In line with what The Times previously reported, the suit alleges that prior to seeking employment in Westwood, Clermont was poised to be appointed to the Tisbury Police Department by the select board, but her candidacy suddenly fell through. Clermont’s name disappeared from the select board agenda on the day she was to be appointed. 

A draft agenda for a July 11, 2017, Tisbury selectmen’s meeting (select board now) that is date-stamped July 7, and a revised agenda stamped the same day with 3:51 pm hand notation, list Clermont as part of the administrative session: “Police Chief, Danielle Clermont: Approval to Extend Conditional Offer of Employment – Police Officer.”

Neither agenda was available on the town’s website, and had to be requested by The Times from the clerk’s office.

The agenda available online at the time was date-stamped July 11, with a 2:54 pm hand notation. Clermont wasn’t on that agenda. 

Friends, family, and mentors had planned to attend the select board meeting and watch Clermont be sworn in. Among them was former Boston Police Academy Superintendent Lisa Holmes. Holmes previously told The Times that were it not for civil service impediments, Clermont would have been a member of the Boston Police Department, and described Clermont as “outstanding.” Holmes also previously said Clermont was “devastated” by how her appointment to the Tisbury Police Department fell apart. 

The suit notes The Times broke the news about the three Tisbury agendas, and alleges those agendas were “manipulated” to conceal discrimination.

“The MV Times article also disclosed for the first time that the board of selectmen’s agenda minutes which been manipulated and amended by the defendants in an effort to cover up the discriminatory motive behind their decision,” the suit states.

The complaint alleges Hanavan initially told Clermont she was passed over due to a negative letter received by the select board. Hanavan allegedly later told Clermont a “hiring freeze” was also in effect.

“Despite the so-called ‘hiring freeze,’ several individuals who were male and not gay/bisexual were hired by the Tisbury Police Department shortly thereafter,” the suit states. “The Tisbury board of selectmen’s decision to rescind the offer of employment to Ms. Clermont, based upon a so-called ‘hiring freeze,’ was in fact a pretext and done for the hidden purpose of discriminatory animus, bias, and retaliation on the part of defendants Max Sherman and others within the Tisbury Police Department.”

The suit notes Clermont underwent a background check while being evaluated by the Tisbury Police Department. The background check showed a 2010 contempt of court finding. As The Times previously reported, Chief Silva and former Tisbury Police Lt. Eerik Meisner both indicated Clermont had been upfront about her contempt of court finding. That finding occurred in Edgartown District Court. Clermont made disparaging remarks to an alleged sexual assault victim following guilty verdicts against Oak Bluffs businessman Saurabh Chhibber. Those verdicts were later overturned on appeal. Clermont, 19 at the time, worked for Chhibber’s brother Sonny as a bartender at the Island House in Oak Bluffs. Judge Lance Garth sentenced Clermont to 20 days in jail for her outburst, which she served. Oak Bluffs Det. Nicholas Curelli also filed a charge of witness intimidation against Clermont. That charge was later dismissed without an admission of guilt in exchange for a year’s probation. While Clermont’s former attorney, Robert Lawless, previously declined to discuss Clermont’s case specifically, he told The Times that “generally speaking,” a person going to jail for criminal contempt of court is nothing he’d ever seen before. The Times requested records from the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office pertaining to Clermont’s incarceration. In a records battle that has continued for over a year, the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office has refused to hand over records on Clermont, and claims those records are exempt from disclosure under Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) restrictions. The Times has argued CORI has no bearing on those records. The state’s supervisor of records agreed, and ordered the sheriff’s office to hand over the records to The Times with whatever redactions are deemed necessary. The sheriff’s office didn’t comply with the order. In an uncommon move, Supervisor of Records Rebecca Murray referred the matter to the office of Attorney General Maura Healey. A determination from Healey’s office has yet to be issued. 

Clermont’s suit states that while she was at the Boston Police Academy, she struck up a romantic relationship with Roman. As a result, the suit alleges Clermont’s sexual orientation “became well known within the Tisbury Police Department and the town at large,” and that she became the a target of discrimination based on her sexual orientation. 

Under a count titled “deprivation of civil rights-failure to supervise,” the suit alleges both the town and Hanavan are culpable of failing to “properly supervise” Sherman and Rogers, and that the town and Havanan “encouraged or knowingly acquiesced” to Sherman’s and Roger’s alleged discriminatory treatment of Clermont.

At its core, Tim Burke said, the suit was a civil rights case about a prejudiced hiring process. In the end, Burke said, Clermont took a job that paid less than what she was slated for in Tisbury. 

The suit was filed July 29, and seeks a trial by jury and unspecified damages.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Well this is no big surprise, they must have seen this one coming. Maybe it’s time to move the Grande and his three blind mice to an office more closely associated in proximity with the federal court in Boston or just give them a desk outside the judges chambers in order to cut down on the overtime and travel expenses to/from court. It might also be prudent to have a law school installed in the new Tisbury school to help future tax payers understand what is taking place in their wonderful, kind, peaceful and welcoming village.

  2. Any TPD officer who is responsible for most of these recent lawsuits, and still keeps his Sgt’s job, must have some hold over those who are refusing to fire him.
    A town employee who has been the cause of this much legal fees, still retaining his job, must be keeping the secrets of the third shooter on the Grassy Knoll, Jimmy Hoffa’s gravesite, and location of the missing Glock 9.

    • Shhh!! If you question what’s really going on with the TPD shipshow, and how their bad actors can continue to escape accountability, “They” will call you a conspiracy theorist!

      I’m reminded of Gore Vidal’s words:

      “I am not a conspiracy theorist, I am a conspiracy ANALYST”

  3. I am grateful to the Times for their persistent reporting on the continuous calamity that is the Tisbury Police Department, and for NOT publishing my previous comment. Phew! I get it.

    How many more lawsuits will come? How much will be paid out for this one? The most outside plaintiff in this series of suits has already settled for a handsome sum, and Roman’s team most certainly smells blood in the water. Ka-Ching.
    And I’d prognosticate that Clermont will settle for a nice vacay & a lil something for the nest egg, & her lawyer pockets a third, without breaking a sweat.

    Then what? How long will this be allowed to go on? How long until the Next One? And does anyone have any doubt that the Next One IS coming?

    Whatever the outcome of these matters, it’s illuminating to see the network that controls Tisbury exposed. Remember, it’s THEIR town, not yours, and it seems they will lie, steal, cheat, sink public records down the memory hole, or whatever else they have to do, to keep it that way.

    Are you going to let them?

    We have the names.

    Now we must give the marching orders, right down to the end of the plank, and beyond.

    • Brian — “the end of the plank ” ? Do you know where that phrase comes from ?
      “We have the names” — are you suggesting vigilantism of some sort ? Is that some sort of threat ? Please clarify what you mean by mentioning that, exactly —
      Usually when someone says “we know who you are” it’s intended to be intimidating .
      Rather ironic from a guy who uses his full name. An unusual name at that–
      Probably not hard to find you—

      ” It’s THEIR town” ? Sorry, It’s my town too– if you have some sort of full on conspiracy theory here, let us know what it is, and tell us all about it and how you will reveal it all “soon” .
      And then we will all wait while your conspiracy theory fades away and you and Rudy and the pilow guy get laughed at.

      Sorry buddy, The police department has some problems, but they don’t own the town, and they are not walking the plank .
      And who do you think you are to give the “marching orders” to anyone ?
      (Expiative deleted to protect the children–)

      • Mr Keller, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

        The Tisbury Police Department will be eliminated, you can bet your star-spangled van on it.

      • Don, I’m pretty sure he’s referring to the selectmen. And by “marching orders”, he means vote them out. As for “end of the plank”, I don’t know, maybe he’s trying to sound like a tough guy.

        • Not trying to sound tough. It’s just that the continued operation of the Tisbury Police Department is intolerable.

          They “protect & serve” only their own (questionable) interests, and they need to go. Period. No more chances, no more ‘next times’. They’re done. Any Tisbury citizen who isn’t outraged by the conduct of the TPD just isn’t paying attention.

          They need to be investigated, by the commonwealth, or the feds (is ATF aware of the gun missing for 4 years? The ‘loss’ was reported over a month ago- Any progress, ‘Chief’?).

          As far as being perjoratively called a ‘conspiracy theorist’, perhaps some here might be well served by re-reading the Times’ reporting of a powerful clique within Tisbury administration, Select Board, and TPD, and all the misadventure they’ve been up to. Look at the names on the lawsuits, then look up the definition of ‘cabal’.

          Key players in the town & TPD should be investigated, and held accountable, for corruption.

          You don’t get Freedom from tyrants, folks.

          You have to TAKE it from them.

  4. It’s obvious from the picture posted at the top of this article that they have discriminated against her.
    When was the last time you saw a male police officer holding a bouquet of flowers at their graduation ceremony ?

  5. Jared and Tim Burke: “Grande, you have been served.”

    Grande: “Shermie, you are doing a heck of a job.”

    Cape & Islands DA Office: “Can I get another Coffee Coolatta in here?”

    Tisbury Board of Selectmen: “When does our new raise kick in?”

    Jeff Kristal, April 23, 2019: “I think we have a lot to look forward to in the Town of Tisbury.”

    Tisbury Citizens: “WT(last letter rhymes with “truck”)?

  6. Who was on the Select Board in 2017? Hmmmmm. Who was the chair? Was it Melinda, Tristan or Larry? The agenda in link has these three listed. Anyone reach out to them for this article? Didn’t seem that way from my read!

Comments are closed.