Princeton Police Department settles suit that totals nearly $4 million

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Seven current and former Princeton police officers will receive close to a combined $4 million to settle a long-running lawsuit in which they accused a former police chief of sexual harassment, discrimination and creating a hostile work environment.

Princeton Council approved legal settlements with six of the seven police officers at its Feb. 11 meeting to settle the lawsuit, which was filed in 2013 against former Chief of Police David Dudeck, the Princeton Police Department and the Town of Princeton in Mercer County Superior Court.

The settlement agreements award $1.3 million to former police officer Sharon Papp; $1.15 million to current police officer Daniel Chitren; $600,000 to former police officer Carol Raymond; and $500,000 to current police officer Christopher Donnelly, according to published reports.

Former police officer Christopher Quaste will receive $150,000 and former police officer Michael Bender will receive $125,000. Former police officer Steven Riccitello accepted $100,000 in November 2018 for dropping his part in the lawsuit, according to published reports.

The Town of Princeton “does not make any admission of liability, but has decided that a negotiated settlement of these claims” would better serve the public’s interest by avoiding additional legal bills that would have resulted if the lawsuits had gone to trial, according to the resolutions authorizing the settlements.

The payments also are contingent upon each police officer signing the settlement agreements and mutual releases, along with a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice – which means they cannot file another lawsuit.

All of the police officers are members of the former Princeton Borough Police Department. Their lawsuit, which was filed in 2013, claims there was a pattern of sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation and disability by Dudeck, the former police chief.

The officers pointed to specific instances in which Dudeck allegedly made sexual references or innuendos to the police officers, including calling gay female police officers and other women “dykes,” regardless of their sexual orientation. Papp and Raymond are lesbians.

Dudeck, who retired in 2013, allegedly threatened and intimidated police officers that if they ever spoke out against him or filed any complaints against him, they would be committing career suicide, the lawsuit said.