Local

Wayland police chief resigning after sexual harassment allegations, investigation

“We take all allegations of misconduct very seriously. We do not tolerate violations of any of our policies.”

Wayland Police Chief Sean Gibbons will step down later this month after an independent review corroborated allegations that he violated the department’s sexual harassment policy, the town announced Monday.

He will have been on the job just one year, most of which has been spent on paid leave as the town hired a law firm to investigate allegations of misconduct. 

“We have received the report from the firm of Clifford & Kenny, LLP and have reviewed its findings,” Select Board Vice Chair Dave Watkins said in a news release. “We take all allegations of misconduct very seriously. We do not tolerate violations of any of our policies.”

Advertisement:

Gibbons did not immediately return a request for comment. 

The allegations

Gibbons first joined the Wayland Police Department in 2002 and was sworn in as police chief in December 2021. He was placed on leave March 31, when the town received reports of past instances in which he had allegedly violated department policy. 

A subsequent independent review revealed sexual encounters with two unidentified members of the department — one of them in 2003, and the other in 2010. 

Police oversight

In 2003, Gibbons allegedly met a trainee at a Billerica bar, invited them to his home, gave them wine, and had sex with them.

“I felt very confused. Looking at the power dynamic, yes, that is an assault, but at the same time, I just feel like I didn’t push him off me, I didn’t say no,” the trainee later told an investigator, according to the redacted report

While attending a conference in Springfield in 2010, Gibbons reportedly had drinks at a Hooters restaurant with another department member. Both were allegedly intoxicated when Gibbons drove them to their hotel, and Gibbons followed the person into their room and had sex with them.

“There is no dispute as to whether a sexual encounter occurred, but there is a dispute regarding consent,” the investigative report notes. In the report, the unidentified department member described the encounter as sexual assault and said they tried to push Gibbons away but eventually gave in to make it end; Gibbons countered that it was “completely consensual.”

Advertisement:

At a celebration following Gibbons’s swearing-in ceremony last December, the department member said the chief asked if they wanted a “Bomb Pop” — a reference to the drink they had had at Hooters in 2010. Gibbons denied referencing their encounter, according to the report. 

What the report found

The report found “sufficient credible evidence” that Gibbons violated the department’s sexual harassment policy by engaging in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a trainee in 2003, then subjecting that person to a higher level of scrutiny at work after they had sex. 

The report also found sufficient evidence that Gibbons violated the policy again when he allegedly referenced the 2010 encounter after his swearing-in ceremony. 

Further, the report notes that Gibbons admitted to driving drunk on the nights of the two alleged encounters in 2003 and 2010. 

The investigator also found evidence to corroborate an allegation that Gibbons violated the department’s workplace harassment policy by referring to an intern with an Irish surname as a “nice Jewish boy.” 

In a statement released through his attorney Monday and obtained by Patch, Gibbons admitted to having sex with co-workers, but said he believed the allegations against him were tied to the hiring of a new lieutenant from outside the department.

Advertisement:

“I want to make it clear that I take full responsibility for exercising profoundly poor judgment by having consensual sexual relations with two of my coworkers on two separate occasions — 19 and 12 years ago,” Gibbons said in the statement, according to Patch. “These transgressions occurred during a very difficult time in my personal life, including an acrimonious divorce, and off-duty alcohol abuse.”

Wayland also released its employment settlement agreement with Gibbons. Per that agreement, Gibbons will remain on paid administrative leave through Dec. 20 and will receive more than $29,000 for his accrued vacation time, as well as two payments of $178,588.75 in January 2023 and January 2024. 

As required by law, the town said it will also forward the investigative report to the Massachusetts Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission (POST), which oversees the processes for police officer decertification, suspension of certification, and retraining in the event of certain misconduct, according to its website.

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com