Discrimination, Harassment, and Abuse of Subpoena
Settled June 2010
Newark Police Department (NPD) officers Yessennia Rodas Montalvo and Jose Montalvo allege in a federal lawsuit (No. 06-cv-1505) that they were the victims of a discriminatory and retaliatory campaign orchestrated by NPD executives. For example, Yessennia Montalvo was subjected to harassment, gossip, and false allegations about her personal relationships. As part of that campaign, she was assigned to work at the city jail, where other male officers made sexually hostile remarks and exposed her to pornography. In addition, Jose Montalvo's ex-wife, Lillian Mejias, committed an assault and battery upon her. Her complaints about her hostile work environment and the assault and battery upon her were ignored by superior officers, while the Montalvos were subjected to frivolous or baseless disciplinary charges, that culminated in their termination. In addition, like Officer Wohltman, whose case was featured yesterday, the Montalvos raised these abuse-of-authority and other matters of public concern on a website, and in response, Newark police officials misused grand jury subpoenas to learn their true identities.
On June 30, 2010, the Newark City Council approved a $185,000 settlement with Yessennia Montalvo, while Jose Montalvo's claims remain pending.
Note: None of Montalvo's allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement likely states that the $185,000 payment does not constitute an admission of liability by Newark or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Newark, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Montalvo $185,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial — it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened — or what consequences, if any, came to the individuals accused in the suit.