Philly Police Commissioner Resigns Amid Accusations Of Not Addressing Sexual Harassment 
Mark Makela/Getty Image

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross resigned, Mayor Jim Kenney confirmed on Tuesday, following allegations of sexual harassment within the department that were recently brought to the mayor’s attention.

“New allegations of sexual harassment as well as gender and racial discrimination among the rank and file have recently been brought to my attention. While those allegations do not accuse Commissioner Ross of harassment, I do ultimately believe his resignation is in the best interest of the Department,” Kenney said in a statement, according to CBS Philadelphia.

As the news station notes, Ross was not named in the allegations, however, according to the report, at least two female police officers complained about gender and race discrimination that they faced within the force, which they felt went unaddressed as Ron allegedly did nothing to stop the behavior.

Ross is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Cpl. Audra McCowan, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said she told Ross in February about a male officer who was sexually harassing her. Ross reportedly texted back, “So why don’t you just order his dumb ass to go sit down and get out of your face ‘Officer.’”

“Think about how you would feel if it was your daughter. Would it matter if it was someone that works for her or not? If she told the person to repeatedly stop, that doesn’t matter?,” McCowan responded through the text messages.

Ross then allegedly claimed that he was going to “school” McCowan on sexual harassment, and also implied that he would not work to resolve the issue in retaliation for putting an end to an affair that she and Ross had from 2009 to 2011, the lawsuit claimed.

The other plaintiff, Patrol Officer Jennifer Allen, said that she was repeatedly sexually harassed and groped by a superior.

She also reportedly had her breast milk stolen from a refrigerator in the cafeteria, however, when she told a superior about the incident, that superior did nothing, and started making jokes and other comments, including “wanting chocolate milk” or “needing milk.”

Kenney noted in his statement that he was “disappointed” about Ross’ resignation because the commissioner has “been a terrific asset to the Police Department and the City as a whole.” 

However, the mayor also noted in his statement that the city implemented a new sexual harassment prevention policy last summer, and acknowledged that he did not believe that the police department “has taken the necessary actions to address the underlying cultural issues that too often negatively impact women—especially women of color.”

“Last summer, the City implemented a new sexual harassment prevention policy and a series of internal reforms designed to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment throughout the government. While rolling out a new policy understandably takes time, I do not believe the Police Department has taken the necessary actions to address the underlying cultural issues that too often negatively impact women—especially women of color,” the statement read. “I will be enlisting the help of an independent firm to investigate the recent allegations and to make recommendations to overcome some of the discrimination and harassment within the Department.”