February 20, 2019

Town Settles With Officers For $3.9 Million in Lawsuit

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council’s February 11 vote to settle a lawsuit filed in 2013 against former Police Chief David Dudeck, the Princeton Police Department, and the municipality, awards a total of $3.925 million to current and former police officers who accused Dudeck of sexual harassment, discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.

Instead of having the case go to trial, the municipality will pay former officers Sharon Papp $1.3 million, Carol Raymond $600,000, Chris Quaste $150,000, and Mike Bender $125,000; current officers Chris Donnelly $500,000 and Dan Chitren $1.15 million; and retired officer Steve Riccitello $100,000. The town did not admit any guilt or liability as part of the settlement. The amounts have been entered into public record.

Council announced the settlement at its meeting February 11, but did not divulge the amounts awarded the officers. Early this week, County Administrator Marc Dashield said it was still too early to discuss the specifics.

“We cannot discuss the settlement at this time because we are still finalizing the agreement,” Dashield said. “Although the officers’ attorney released information, we have been advised by our legal team not to discuss it until the agreement has been finalized.”

It was in August 2013 that the seven officers filed suit against Dudeck, what was then Princeton Borough, and the Police Department, alleging an “egregious and continuing” pattern of harassment and discrimination. Dudeck had been forced to retire by the time of the filing. The suit stated that he was “patently abusive and created a hostile work environment.”

The suit also alleged that the municipality hired Dudeck as chief of the newly consolidated Princeton “despite knowledge of his discriminatory conduct,” for which he was not disciplined, and therefore the town colluded with Dudeck to hide his behavior.