Cook Co. (ECWd) -
We first reported on Country Club Hills Fire Department January 23, 2017, regarding possible pornography on fire department computers and the fact the public body was sanctioned for violating court orders.
Now the story only gets worse. According to transcripts and pleadings filed in court, firefighters at Country Club Hills are in fact viewing pornography, however, the viewing may be the least of their problems.
According to the Forensic expert that imaged the hard drives under court order, a criminal investigation may be in order. We say criminal because it appears from the court records, someone has attempted to destroy the evidence by wiping the hard drives. We can only hope the courts turn this matter over to the authorities for a criminal investigation to identify who is responsible for attempting to destroy evidence.
"I haven't written a report, your Honor. I gave her a preliminary verbal report. I said there's thousands of Web searches for pornography. It's all over the board. And I also let her know that it appears that they've wiped the hard drives, reloaded them, and I gave her three dates in which that was completely done, and that's a complete wipe, but the problem was, once the computers were hooked back up, the server pushed down profiles that had information of the previous Web history and the searching of pornography."
"the evidence that Defendants started wiping the computer hard drives just 13 days after this Court ordered the imaging on August 31, 2016"
As if that's not bad enough, now the legal counsel has insinuated that the Plaintiff is attempting to taint the jury pool by providing records to the media and cites our first article. For the record, we have never received anything from the Plaintiff or their attorney, but even if we had, how does that change the fact that "employees were looking at pornography on the work computers, on work time, and on taxpayer dime"?
The Defendant, in this case, is seeking a gag order on the Plaintiff and their counsel from speaking with media. As pointed out in Response to Defendant found below, "such an order, or any variation thereof, would constitute a prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment and would be unconstitutional."
How interesting to see the public body seeking to keep things out of the press. Maybe they should have thought about that prior to engaging in conduct that landed them in this mess in the first place. Reading through the court records it is becoming very clear that Country Club Hills may be facing a very large financial hit from not just the conduct of their public employees, but from the attempt to destroy evidence and cover up their actions. Such steps sure paint the picture that they have something to hide.
When you find Officers within the Fire Department engaged in such activities, it points to the type of operation they are running, and it's not good. Not good because when a Lt. on a Fire Department does things, it sets the example for the younger firefighters. What example do we find they are setting?
"Lt. Dangoy admitted that he saw others watch porn at the fire station, as well as watched porn himself on a computer in his office."
"Mr. McAuliff was asked if he had any knowledge of employees participating in the behavior of watching Porn while at the Fire House? Mr. McAuliff stated "Yes".
"[c]urrent Lieutenants have admitted that they are aware of male employees watching pornography in the fire stations. One Lieutenant admitted he saw nothing wrong with it. That same Lieutenant also testified that he himself watched pornography at the fire station, even since he has been a Lieutenant."
Not convinced there is a problem?
"Mr. Pycz was asked to describe Porn in his own words that would describe the behaviors of Porn. He responded by saying he would define Porn as "Penetration between a Male & Female". He was asked if he had witnessed any Porn being viewed in the Fire House, he responded by saying, "According to my definition, I have never seen Porn in the Fire House "
Really? Porn as Lt. Pycz defines it is Penetration between a Male & Female? Safe to assume Mr. Pycz learned such a defense tactic from a former President of the United States?
Interesting how an internal investigation finds Pycz stating he has never seen porn in the fire house yet a deposition turns up that he has in fact witnessed firefighters watching porn.
"Fire Department Lieutenants Derek Dangoy and Carl Pycz (a named defendant) both admitted in their depositions that they had witnessed CCH firefighters watching porn on televisions and computers at the fire station."
Sadly, this is yet another case where the public trust has been broken. The taxpayers of Country Club Hills deserve better. We will continue to bring updates on this case, especially after they chose to attempt to gag information pertaining to the operations of a public body.