Lawsuit alleges NJ fire chief sexually harassed teen volunteer

Franklin Township Fire Department - Facebook
Photo credit Franklin Township Fire Department - Facebook

FRANKLIN, N.J. (1010 WINS) -- A Warren County Superior Court lawsuit from last month is alleging that a New Jersey Fire Department Chief was inappropriate with a teen volunteer, commenting on her body and continued to harass her even after she left for college.

According to the lawsuit, Franklin Fire Department Chief Raymond Read allegedly carried out a campaign of sexual harassment against Priya Gupta in 2018, when she was 16-years-old and volunteering as an Emergency Services Technician.

Court papers allege that Read, 45, questioned Gupta and asked her if her pubic hair is "like a landing strip down there? Do you leave a little flavor saver?"

He also told Gupta he could "teach you some skills with your tongue," and court papers claim Read also announced in front of the department when Gupta arrived that it was "my hot EMT day."

Read also allegedly harassed Gupta in text messages and would make dirty comments on her social media, that even continued when Gupta left for college, the court filing adds.

Read said to Gupta on social media after she left for college this summer "don’t tempt me, I miss you, god I miss you, the things I’d do to you if I came to see you," the suit alleges.

According to court papers, Read allegedly would make these inappropriate comments to Gupta and other female volunteers in front of other workers. And two other lieutenants and a firefighter also sexually harassed her.

He also allegedly made racist comments like praising the Ku Klux Klan as a “charity organization,” and telling another woman that he “would never date an Indian” and “didn’t want to smell like curry” from being with Gupta, the suit alleges, adding that Gupta was of Indian descent and took offense.

Tthe suit also. claims that Gupta wasn't taken seriously after she informed the Deputy Chief of the fire department of the alleged harassment on Aug. 24, and notifying him she was going to get legal advice.

Gupta — who is seeking unspecified damages — is additionally seeking for a judge to order anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and other sensitivity trainings for the defendants.

“As alleged in the complaint, Defendants operated a firehouse where its disturbed leaders promoted a culture rife with misogyny and bigotry,” Gupta’s lawyer, Peter Valenzano, said. “Ms. Gupta was consumed by an inferno of sexual harassment and discrimination – much of which occurred while she was still a minor.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Franklin Township Fire Department - Facebook