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updated: 2/26/2013 5:05 PM

Investigation dogged Frasier's last days as Mundelein police chief

Frasier among three running for Mundelein mayor

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  • Wally Frasier, left, Steve Lentz and Robin Meier are running for mayor in Mundelein.

      Wally Frasier, left, Steve Lentz and Robin Meier are running for mayor in Mundelein.

 
 

In the days before current mayoral candidate Wally Frasier resigned as Mundelein's police chief in 1992, village officials investigated widespread sexual harassment allegations in the department and were moving to demote the veteran cop, a Daily Herald inquiry revealed.

Frasier wasn't personally accused of harassment, village documents show. Rather, female officers made repeated complaints to superiors about the behavior of co-workers.

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In a Feb. 28, 1992, report that wasn't made public until now, then-Village Administrator Ken Marabella harshly questioned why Frasier didn't stop the alleged conduct or report it to village officials.

"The chief appears to have exercised extremely poor judgment in not properly following up on the complaints and by not putting an end to the harassment," Marabella wrote.

Frasier resigned less than a week later and was reassigned as a lieutenant.

In a printed statement Monday, Frasier said he issued "strong verbal reprimands and strong written reprimands" for violations brought to his attention as chief.

"Twenty years ago, I took action when I became aware of employee harassment," he said.

But Frasier wouldn't say whether the allegations or the steps to remove him as chief led to his resignation.

"They were personal reasons then and they're still personal reasons, and I'm not going to say anything more about that," Frasier said in a follow-up telephone interview.

Public service

Frasier, 66, is in a three-way race for the mayor's office with village trustees Steve Lentz and Robin Meier.

Frasier has a long history of public service. A U.S. Army veteran who served stateside during the Vietnam War, he joined the Mundelein police force in 1972 and remained on the force for 29 years.

He left the department to become Lakemoor's chief and remained there until a political regime change led to his dismissal in 2009.

Not long afterward, Frasier was named chief in Hainesville. He held that job for about a year and then retired.

Frasier has served on Mundelein's police pension board, led the local American Legion Post, worked with a Lake County task force on alcohol and drug abuse, and held a variety of other civic posts.

He also served on the Mundelein Park and Recreation District board from 1982 to 1986 and again from 1996 to the present.

Frasier's current mayoral campaign is his first bid for village office.

Earlier this month, the Daily Herald requested from village hall copies of any memos, reports or other documents concerning Frasier's resignation as chief. The solicitation was made through the Freedom of Information Act.

The Daily Herald also sought copies of any disciplinary reports, performance reports or commendations for Frasier during his time as police chief, as well as other documents regarding his conduct as a police officer.

The village provided dozens of documents, and the vast majority depicted Frasier positively. Thank-you notes from community groups and schools were common, and performance reviews portrayed him as a reliable officer who met expectations.

Some documents weren't turned over, village attorney James C. Hartman explained in a cover letter, because officials are required to "delete disciplinary reports, letters of reprimand or other records of disciplinary action" that are more than four years old.

'Significant' problem

Three documents from February and March 1992 depicted concerns about sexual harassment in the department and a lack of faith in Frasier's leadership. They were:

• Marabella's summary report.

• A March 5 letter from Frasier's lawyer, Robert J. Hauser, to trustee and police committee leader Jeffrey Hayes regarding the board and mayor's pending decision to "terminate" Frasier as police chief.

• A March 6 letter from Hayes to Hauser, responding to the previous day's correspondence.

Frasier's polite, one-page resignation letter to then-Mayor Marilyn Sindles, dated March 5, 1992, also was included.

Of those documents, Marabella's report was the most critical.

Based on interviews, it described "a significant amount of sexual harassment" directed at two female officers.

Both officers "have made repeated complaints to superior officers without, apparently, satisfactory results," it stated.

Marabella identified six male officers as "primary antagonists."

He also wrote about "several instances of unacceptable conduct" but gave no details. When the conduct was reported, supervisors "seem to ignore it," he wrote.

To Marabella, the extensive allegations indicated "a significant problem in the MPD, beginning at the top, Chief Frasier."

"He has not, at least as far as the complainants know, ever taken definitive action," Marabella wrote. "There does not appear to be any suspensions. There may be written reprimands, but if there were, why wasn't the mayor informed?"

Marabella ended the report with seven recommendations. They included transferring some of the officers to different shifts, sending one for a psychological assessment, establishing a written harassment policy and providing training for officers and village employees about discrimination and harassment.

Marabella retired as village administrator in 2005 and now works part time as a municipal consultant. When reached by telephone Monday, he called it a personnel matter and declined to comment on the harassment allegations.

Frasier steps down

Frasier resigned as chief just days after Marabella crafted his memo. He'd held the job for six years.

"This decision was not an easy one for me to make," Frasier wrote to Sindles. "However, for personal reasons, I feel it is in the best interest of my family and the police department to make this request."

No other explanation was ever made public.

The letters from Hauser and Hayes detailed terms of Frasier's resignation and his future employment.

Hayes' letter also indicated the investigation into Frasier's possible role in the harassment was completed.

"Based on information presently available, the mayor and board of trustees have no plans to pursue any further administrative action against Mr. Frasier," Hayes wrote.

The village board unanimously approved Frasier's resignation soon after it was submitted. That month, the panel adopted the town's first sexual harassment policy.

Although he had resigned, Frasier remained chief until the fall, when Raymond J. Rose was hired from Elk Grove Village as the department's new boss. Rose retired last month.

In his statement to the Daily Herald, Frasier said he decided to run for mayor about a year ago. Incumbent Kenneth H. Kessler isn't seeking re-election, so the seat is open.

"I decided that it was time for me to step up (to) the plate and stop just complaining about how things were and try to be part of the solution," Frasier said.

When asked if he thought the harassment allegations and the circumstances surrounding his demotion would arise during the campaign, Frasier said no.

"I didn't even give it any thought," he said. Election Day is April 9.

Meier declined to comment about the allegations, saying she "didn't have enough facts to make a judgment on the issue."

Lentz declined to comment as well, saying he wants to "keep my campaign positive."

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