A Detroit firefighter is accused of sexually assaulting a fire victim and threatening to burn down her house after she refused to be in a relationship with him, the Motor City Muckraker has learned.
In a letter sent to fire officials, the single mother said the fire sergeant also threatened her with a gun, “became physically abusive” and used a false identity.
Despite the complaint, which was anonymous, the firefighter remains on duty as Detroit police investigate the case. By contrast, the fire administration has disciplined and threatened firefighters who have been suspected of providing information about serious safety issues to Motor City Muckraker.
“The Detroit Fire Department cannot comment on personnel investigations,” Executive Fire Commissioner Edsel Jenkins said in a statement. “The Department investigates all citizen complaints and responds directly to the citizen as appropriate. In regard to this specific allegation, there is an anonymous letter being circulated that has been submitted to the Detroit Police Department for investigation.”
The harassment began, the woman alleges, shortly after the fire.
“He started coming by every other day,” she wrote in a letter sent to three firehouses. “I explained to him I didn’t want a relationship and he said he just wanted to be a friend.”
That quickly changed, the woman said.
“He forced himself on me, and afterwards told me that he loved me and that he intended on being there for me,” she wrote. “He called me 20 times during the course of that day, trying to convince me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and that he didn’t force himself on me but instead we ‘made love.'”
The woman said she eventually “said ok to dating, but after a few moths of being with a man known as John, he started verbally abusing me if I didn’t do what he said or wanted.
“After 3 months I had enough of his controlling and violent temper, and told him I wanted out. He then became physically abusive. He carried a gun and told me that if he ever saw me with another man he would use it. He constantly told me that he could burn down my house and make it look like an accident, and because he was a firefighter he could get away with it.”
She also discovered his real name wasn’t John.
“I later found out his true identity and that he had another family that I knew nothing about,” she wrote.
The harassment never stopped, she said.
“He still makes constant threats and I do fear for my safety.”
Motor City Muckraker won’t identify the firefighter until more evidence is presented.
Although the letter was anonymous, police shouldn’t have a hard time narrowing down the location of the fire. Each fire company keeps detailed information about every fire run, and the letter contains specifics about the fire.”
“When I or any woman calls 911 for help, we should not fall victim to a man who preys on women in vulnerable situations,” the woman wrote.
Jenkins declined to say whether the fire department has a policy prohibiting firefighters from establishing relationships with fire victims.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.