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Big Bend Public Works superintendent back to work after suspension for sexual harassment claims

Posted at 5:23 PM, Apr 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 18:23:34-04

BIG BEND — The Big Bend Public Works superintendent is back to work after serving a 10-day unpaid suspension for several sexual harassment claims on the job.

Public Works Superintendent Eric Pedersen wouldn’t answer any of our questions Wednesday, but Village President Warren Lajsic said he stands by the punishment.

Newly unsealed police investigative reports detail the eight claims made against Pedersen over the last six months, starting with an alleged comment to a female employee about the village Christmas party in December.

“The three of you should come that evening in lingerie and make it a lingerie party,” read the police report.

The employee said the comment made her feel “extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed.”

Another female employee claimed Pedersen “exposed his undergarments” to her in February.

A third female employee told police that Pedersen suggested they play “adult movies” at a library event for “a lot bigger attendance.”

Pedersen denied most of the claims to police and said others were taken out of context. Some residents are surprised by the village’s disciplinary action given that there were eight alleged incidents.

“If it is true, no, I think he should be suspended more than that,” Mark Bourdo of Big Bend said.

“I think it’s terrible in a small town like this,” Jason of West Bend said.

Village President Lajsic agreed to a phone interview about the accusations.

“The three of you should come that evening in lingerie and make it a lingerie party,” the police report read.

“That was all handled behind closed doors and before I took office,” he said.

When asked if Lajsic stands by the punishment given to Pedersen, he replied, “Absolutely, if that’s what the village board decided and they decided it was appropriate, I’ll support what my village board decided.”

Pedersen signed what’s called a “last chance agreement” with the village, meaning if there is another credible sexual harassment claim made against him, he’ll be out of a job.