Ambridge Council meets tonight as more specific details of sexual harassment claims surface about its troubled police chief.
The Ambridge police bargaining unit on Tuesday verified that a copy of a female officer’s written complaint filed against Chief James Mann and obtained by BeaverCountian.com from a confidential source is authentic.
In the complaint, addressed “to whom it may concern,” Officer Alexis Korol, 22, claims that Mann’s harassment began just after he hired her in October 2016. Mann was off work throughout much of 2017 for a back injury, and then off duty on paid and unpaid leave for much of last year.
Following is a summation of her allegations, many including dates and the names of officers she claims can corroborate. BeaverCountian.com is not naming them until they can be independently confirmed.
Korol said Mann’s harassment began just minutes after her hiring with comments about her appearance that made her very uncomfortable. She said she questioned her decision, but that her options were limited. She was 19. She said other officers warned her about Mann’s behavior and advised her to keep notes. From early on, he referred to her openly as “Sexy Lexi.”
Alexis Korol’s accusations
– On Dec. 8, 2016, Korol wrote that she underwent taser training and volunteered to be tased. “After I was tased, Chief Mann began rubbing the upper part of my back, he removed the prong and then lifted up my shirt and continued rubbing my back and even pulling my sports bra out.” She said others witnessed it, as well as Mann saying her back muscles were “sexy” and describing her as being “hot,” and that she has video evidence.
– When she was breaking in a new police vest and questioning whether it fit correctly, “Mann grabbed me and turned me to the side and said that it was fine, he then asked me if I had a trauma plate, I told him that I did and he began poking the front of my vest where my breasts are and continued to grab me.”
– At a bargaining unit meeting she attended in shorts, Mann commented on her “sexy legs and nice skin. He then said that my tattoos were sexy. He was standing very close to me during the meeting.”
– On Sept. 4, 2018 during a family vacation in Jamaica, Mann followed her on the Snapchat messaging app. She said she felt compelled to accept his request. “Mann immediately sent me a chat and I immediately felt uncomfortable … I believe it was something about my bikini.” She immediately blocked him. Later, she said Mann seemed to be upset about it and took her to an interview/interrogation room and made comments about still following her activity through other means.
– Korol said Drewnowski once ordered Mann to leave the station. “At this time, Chief Mann was given an order by Mayor Drewnowski that he as not allowed to be in the station because he was on sick leave. Chief Mann was in the station that day for 2-3 hours. He was in the station multiple times even though he was ordered not to be.”
– Mann regularly talked explicitly about other women’s bodies to them and about them in front of her and others.
– Korol said she heard Mann make sexual comments to a confidential informant. “I was present when he was telling a CI a story about how she would come to the police station when she was 13 years old and how she was fully developed and that he knew of officers that would have sex with her and her sister who was 15 and he told her that he would have done ‘freaky’ stuff to her.” She said she also heard him tell a female with an arrest warrant that she had a “nice rack.”
– She wrote that she also has heard him use racially derogative terms many times, as well as regularly calling officers “retarded.” She said he also spoke very explicitly about women while meeting with her father, Constable Alex Korol.
– Around April 2017, Mann bought her a watch and told her she couldn’t tell any other officers. She did tell another officer.
– At another time, she helped Mann set up his new iPhone for about three hours. He told her he was ordering officers new tourniquets and proceeded to grab her right thigh and kept rubbing it, showing her where to use it if she were shot there.
– Korol said she wears her hair regularly in a bun, and Mann asked her “numerous” times to take it down, sometimes in front of other officers, and telling her things like, “Damn Lex, that hair is kinda hot, it looks like bed hair, like you just got done having sex, I like the way your bang goes to the side like that.” She said another officer told her that Mann “has talked about me having a ‘nice ass.’” She said he also made comments that made her uncomfortable about her hair color and her perfume.
– Early on, Mann phoned her and talked for two hours, asking if she wanted to be Ambridge’s first full-time female officer and telling her he was “cutting the cancer out of the department.”
Korol wrote that she first informed Ambridge Mayor David Drewnowski of her concerns via phone on April 3, 2018. She wrote that Drewnowski “stated that he was concerned the borough solicitor and council may not have his back in the matter so he advised me to file a formal complaint with either the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] or PHRC [the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission].”
Korol wrote that Ambridge Manager Joseph Kauer told her she needed to file the written complaint with the borough, and that she had informed her supervisors of her need to make the complaint beforehand.
The Ambridge police bargaining unit – which last month announced a unanimous vote of no confidence in the borough council, manager, solicitor and Mann – said Korol is one of two female officers who submitted sexual harassment complaints against Mann last April.
Also last April BeaverCountian.com reported that more than a dozen Ambridge officers went to state police with wide-ranging allegations against Mann.
The same month, borough council voted to put Mann on paid administrative leave. It then hired CSI Corporate Security and Investigation, a private investigation company in Center Township, to examine the department.
Officers alleged last month that CSI’s report was completed last July, is around 80 pages long, and recommends Mann’s termination.
But although the public has repeatedly requested information at council meetings, Solicitor Richard Start has insisted the report is not complete.
BeaverCountian.com filed a formal open records request to the borough on Feb. 1 seeking invoices and payments made to CSI. Invoices often detail stages of completion, and could reveal whether a final report has been provided to the municipality.
No disciplinary action has been taken against Mann in response to the allegations of sexual harassment against him.
He was put on unpaid administrative leave following his Aug. 23 arrest by state police on unrelated charges. He initially faced multiple felony and misdemeanor charges related to disability insurance fraud and threatening and intimidating his own officers who are witnesses against him. Some charges were dismissed at an October preliminary hearing. Mann is still facing charges alleging he mistreated officers under his command: threats of unlawful harm to influence a judicial proceeding, intimidation of a witness, obstruction, retaliation, and harassment.
Attorney Stephen Colafella, who is representing Mann, told BeaverCountian.com his client will not be providing public comment about the sexual harassment allegations.
The Ambridge Council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the borough building.
BeaverCountian.com’s John Paul contributed to this report.