(CN) – A police officer in Ohio says the Gahanna Police Department defamed and harassed him with a phony investigation after his wife was featured in Playboy, even as his supervisors were requesting autographed copies of the article.
Former Det. Ronald Fithen says the “invasive, non-criminal investigation” was part of a pattern of harassment and retribution in which his bosses defamed him to the Army National Guard and denied him paid leave to drill with his unit.
Fithen and his wife sued the city, its police department and Police Chief Dennis Murphy in Franklin County Court, Columbus.
He claims the investigation turned up no wrongdoing though it involved his entire family. He says the snooping began months after his wife appeared in a 2008 article in Playboy. And he says the chief and deputy chief of police, both of whom are defendants, repeatedly requested autographed copies of the photo spread, which Fithen says he provided because he believed he would be retaliated against if he didn’t.
Since then, he says, his supervisors have made derogatory comments about him to a ranking member of the Army National Guard, calling him “dishonest” and “incompetent,” and refused him paid leave to participate in military training.
He says he was demoted after he filed a worker’s compensation claim and requested medical leave on the advice of his doctor, because of “intense, debilitating, and unwarranted work stressors.”
While he was on leave, the police department called him “an average of three times a day to inquire into his health status and generally harass (him),” Fithen says.
The Fithens seek punitive damages for sham legal process, defamation, discrimination, constructive discharge and loss of consortium. They are represented by John Sherrod.