In 2013, a Former Baltimore County Fire captain became the subject of a sexual harassment investigation. An investigation into the allegations, Theodore C. Priester Jr. was terminated from his position.
On Thursday, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the county’s decision to deny Priester’s pension benefits.
Priester began working in the fire department in 1982. At the time of his termination, he was in charge of Station 18 in Randallstown.
After his termination in 2013, the Board of Trustees of the county’s Employee’s Retirement System denied Priester’s application for pension benefits. The ruling was based on an investigation that found he violated the department policies and had not provided “honorable and faithful service as an employee,” a requirement of the county code.
An attorney representing Priester said he was not aware of another case in Maryland or in the United States, where a worker was denied their pension without a criminal conviction.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act protects employees of private companies, but not public safety workers.
A complaint filed alleging Priester utilized the ladies’ bathroom in the fire station prompted an investigation. She said he would “periodically approach her from behind while she was washing dishes and working at the computer and would ‘nibble’ on her neck and ear, use crude language to tell her that he thought that she was sexually aroused and make other lewd and sexually suggestive comments,” according to her 2015 testimony during an appeal.
Other women came forward, saying Priester made suggestive comments and touched them inappropriately.
During a 2013 hearing before the department’s Administrative Hearing Board, Priester expressed regret.
“Obviously, had any person advised me that they took offense to person actions, comments or gestures I would have immediately ceased and desisted,” according to court opinion.