Sheriff Joel Ordway declined to comment on a two-year-old allegation of having made inappropriate advances toward a member of his department who just received a $100,000 settlement from Steuben County.

Sheriff Joel Ordway declined to comment on a two-year-old allegation of having made inappropriate advances toward a member of his department who just received a $100,000 settlement from Steuben County.


Through her attorney, Sgt. Jen Reed is alleging that Ordway made unwanted advances toward her while attending a Stop DWI program in Oriskany.


The incident allegedly occurred at a hotel in nearby Utica in June 2010.


Ithaca-based attorney Ray Schlather, who is representing Reed, said his client was initially not planning on going public with news of Ordway’s alleged inappropriate conduct until reading comments from the sheriff in an article posted Friday on The Evening Tribune website. The article was subsequently printed in the Sunday Spectator.


The article reported the county’s $100,000 settlement with Reed after she filed a gender discrimination charge in 2007 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Reed claimed former sheriff Richard Tweddell submitted her to a bevy of unfair treatment based on her gender.


The settlement covered “(Reed’s) alleged physical, economic, emotional and other personal injuries resulting from the conduct alleged in the Charge and Other Claims and from any other conduct by anyone in the Sheriff’s Department, including physical assault that she may have been subjected to up to the time she signs this Agreement.”


On Friday Ordway stated he was unaware of any other claims or additional incidents.


In an interview with the Tribune on Saturday, Schlather said that wasn’t the case.


“(Reed) feels compelled to set the record straight with respect to what Ordway said, specifically, contrary to what he said. He did make unwanted sexual advances toward her during an event that occurred in Oriskany ... That event, and those unwanted sexual advances, were part and parcel to this resolution,” said Schlather.


“He made sexual advances toward her. She said ‘no,’ there were some propositions (and) some physical contact that was unwanted. She made it very clear that it was unwanted and that he should just go away. And he did,” Schlather added later.


Ordway declined a subsequent interview request from the Tribune, but issued a statement Monday morning.


“I have no comment on a 2-year-old allegation which was not part of her filed claim,” wrote Ordway. “Sgt. Reed is a good officer and I hope she can now begin to focus on her job to serve the citizens of Steuben County.”


Schlather said Ordway apologized immediately after making the advances and apologized again the following morning.


After informing Ordway that the alleged advances were inappropriate, Reed decided against notifying any authorities in the Oriskany area of the alleged incident, said Schlather.


Following the alleged incident, Ordway started treating Reed in a “retaliatory” way, said Schlather, including shunning her in conversations and criticizing her for doing work that she’d done the same way previously.


It was only after the “retaliatory” treatment, added Schlather, that Reed decided to bring the incident to the county’s attention in the fall of 2011.


While negotiating the settlement, the attorney and his client brought the alleged incident and the claimed additional mistreatment to the attention of the county, said Schlather, in hopes that the “retaliatory” actions would end.


Schlather was puzzled by Steuben County Attorney Alan Reed’s comments, published online Friday and in the Sunday Spectator, when the county attorney stated he was unaware of any other incidents of physical assault since the charge was filed, and that including clauses covering the timeframe of negotiations as part of a settlement was standard.


“She wanted to make it clear to the county what happened, and she did, and Alan Reed heard all that. And we made it very clear, she wanted to make it clear, and the county understood, that it was being put on notice so that the retaliation would stop so she could go forward and be a cop. That was our expectation for when this case was resolved,” said Schlather.


The settlement, approved by the county Legislature on Jan. 23 and Steuben County Judge Peter Bradstreet, in his role as a Supreme Court judge, on Feb. 6, stated that the agreement didn’t imply an admission of wrongdoing on the part of the county or its current or former employees.