A.J. Torres is the second Sheffield Lake officer to allege harassment.
A second Sheffield Lake police officer has filed a charge of discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission against former police chief Anthony Campo.
A.J. Torres, the police department’s only Latino officer, spoke publicly about the race and religion-based harassment he alleged he experienced by Campo for the first time Tuesday in a news conference.
Last fall, Keith Pool — the only Black officer in the department at the time — filed a discrimination charge over an incident caught on video showing Campo placing a “Ku Klux Klan” sign on Pool’s jacket and then wearing a makeshift KKK hat. Pool also spoke at the conference.
In his charge, Torres alleged that Campo mocked his Latino heritage and Catholic faith, including his observance of the Sabbath and Lent.
Torres also wrote that Campo posted offensive images of him on the police department bulletin board, such as a photoshopped image of Torres on a jar of salsa with a sombrero and of Torres’ face superimposed onto a priest’s body.
Campo also allegedly posted a photo from one of Torres’ annual mission trips to El Salvador, in which he is pictured with two children, and added a speech bubble implying that Torres is a pedophile, in reference to the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal.
When Campo’s alleged mistreatment of Torres first began, Torres said he attempted to keep his head down and “stay quiet.”
“I would try to have faith, calm down,” Torres said at the conference. “But then the icing on the cake is when Pool’s situation came up, and I said, ‘He’s not alone.’ I had to step forward.”
Following the release of the KKK video, Campo retired in June 2021 after 32 years in the department and eight years as chief. Campo could not be reached for comment by ABC News.
At the time, Sheffield Lake Mayor Dennis Bring called the incident the “the most egregious and offensive thing you could possibly do.”
However, in both Pool and Torres’ cases, the city has denied that Campo’s conduct was “severe or pervasive,” characterizing it as merely “banter,” according to Ashlie Case Sletvold — partner at Peiffer Wolf, the law firm representing Torres and Pool.
“I don’t put away my ethnicity and heritage when I come to work, and I shouldn’t have to hide my religion, either,” Torres said. “My faith and my humanitarian work on my personal time make me a better police officer. I am disappointed that the city I serve is not taking what former Chief Campo did to me more seriously.”
Bring and Sheffield Lake Law Director David Graves did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.
In addition to the claims filed by Pool and Torres, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission is currently investigating a third charge against Campo alleging sexual harassment.
Pool also filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Ohio last July to force the department to produce public records, including images Campo created and posted mocking employees based on race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation.
The city has yet to provide the records, Sletvold said at the conference.
The police department has also yet to mandate any diversity training for its employees and has rejected offers for people to come in and provide such training for free, Sletvold said.
Sheffield Lake Police Department declined to comment to ABC News.
“There’s no change,” Pool said. “We haven’t moved forward as a department to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
ABC News, June 21, 2022