Jeffersontown Fire paramedic sues current and former leaders claiming retaliation

Paramedic Crystal Blevins said in the lawsuit an outside investigator was hired to smear her.
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 4:57 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A paramedic is suing the Jeffersontown Fire Department for retaliating against her when she reported being sexually harassed.

Paramedic Crystal Blevins said after she went to the board of trustees, the department hired a private investigator who instead, she said, focused on smearing her.

WAVE started working on this story after Assistant Chief Chris Rader abruptly resigned in March.

His resignation letter said he was too busy with his father’s company and asked the department not to discuss his case unless it was under investigation.

The lawyer bringing this lawsuit compared the culture of the command staff at Jeffersontown Fire to a fraternity.

“Leadership has an outsize influence over new recruits, young women, and has used that influence to coerce them into engaging into sexual acts and sometimes long term affairs,” attorney Laura Landenwich said.

She said a month after Blevins was hired in July 2018, Jeffersontown Fire Captain Mike Wallingford solicited her for sex. She agreed fearing for her brand new job.

The lawsuit said it would not be the first time she was approached by him and others.

Around the same time, according to the lawsuit, Rader also began spending time with Blevins.

She asked to be moved to a different station to avoid both men, but was told only if she named names. She declined, fearing making enemies at a new job.

In September 2018, Rader began an affair with Blevins.

That affair lasted three years, with Rader getting sexual favors from Blevins at the fire station. The lawsuit said they never dated, and he increased his sexual demands after being promoted to assistant chief in 2020.

Eventually in 2021, he pressured Blevins to solicit first his secretary and then a new recruit to participate in sex together. Blevins relented under the pressure.

“Those were bad life decisions, but there wasn’t anything wrong about what she did, but there was a lot wrong about what everyone else did,” Landenwich said.

Earlier this year, Blevins decided to end the toxic relationship with Rader. She reported his conduct to the board. It hired an outside attorney and investigator but Landenwich said the investigation switched its focus from the conduct to Blevins.

According to the lawsuit, Blevins said she was suspended June 6 without being given a specific reason.

“She became the target of a prolonged smear campaign and a prolonged investigation not into the assistant chief or the captains that engaged in this conduct, but into completely fabricated allegations against her,” Landenwich said.

A response was provided by the Jeffersontown Fire Department on the allegations on Tuesday afternoon.

“The Jeffersontown Fire Department, its leaders, and its Board, are aware of Crystal Blevins’ allegations. The Department has investigated them thoroughly and has taken what it believes to be appropriate responsive action. It denies that Ms. Blevins has been subjected to sex discrimination or sexual harassment, and intends to vigorously defend itself in this lawsuit.”

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