Former Carpentersville Fire Chief John Schuldt retired from the fire department at the height of an investigation into whether he inappropriately touched two female village employees, according to documents obtained by the Daily Herald.
Schuldt said the allegations are incorrect and have nothing to with why he retired.
“I'm not going to do a he-said, she-said in the newspaper,” Schuldt said Tuesday, declining to discuss the accusations. “I wish the village well. I wish the employees well. I'm moving on to new opportunities.”
Schuldt recently applied to be fire chief for the neighboring Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District. He was not hired.
Schuldt, the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association's 2011 chief of the year, was placed on paid administrative leave in January after a female police records clerk complained Jan. 25 that Schuldt, 53, stood behind her while she was seated at her desk, put his hands on her shoulders, wrapped them around her neck, squeezed her neck and shook her head back and forth, records show.
“The position he had me in was such that my head was close to being under my desk,” the woman said in her complaint. “I tried to pry his hands off my neck and asked him what he was doing. He said ... something like, they needed to get rid of extra employees and this was how they were doing it now.”
The woman filed a report the same day with then-Police Chief Al Popp (now director of public safety overseeing the police and fire departments). She did not pursue criminal charges.
During the investigation, one of the witnesses said Schuldt had previously made physical contact with her that made her feel uncomfortable and usually involved him touching her shoulders.
The report reached Village Manager J. Mark Rooney Jan. 28 and he placed Schuldt on paid administrative leave the same day while he took over the investigation, Rooney said. Nearly a week later, Schuldt told Rooney he would retire.
“I was still investigating other things that had come up,” Rooney said. “Before I finished talking to all the parties, he came forward and retired. There was no longer a need to finish any investigation.”
Schuldt's disciplinary record is clean and there have been no other complaints filed against him, officials said. With the exception of a one-year stint as acting village manager in 2001, Schuldt had been with the fire department since 1977 when he retired in February. Schuldt had been its chief since 1996.
As part of a separation agreement with the village, Schuldt received medical benefits for his family through March, and $28,976.24 for earned vacation and 30 unused sick days. Schuldt started collecting his $7,970 monthly pension in February.
“John did a lot of good things for the village and I'm sorry that things turned out the way they did,” Village President Ed Ritter said, declining to elaborate.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.