Women's group urges mayor to 'take action' against city officer
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The National Council of Jewish Women yesterday urged Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to "take action" against a Pittsburgh police sergeant charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
Christine Stone, the group's public affairs chairwoman for Pennsylvania, sent the mayor a letter reminding him of a zero-tolerance pledge he made in 2007 with regard to domestic violence among city employees.
She asked that he "acknowledge the seriousness" of the alleged Friday incident involving Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac Jr., 42, and the mother of his child, Lauren Maughan, 23.
Ms. Maughan told police that Sgt. Hlavac slapped her in the face. A doctor diagnosed a dislocated jaw. City police charged Sgt. Hlavac with one count of aggravated assault.
Ms. Stone wrote in an e-mail that she is asking that the matter "not be swept under the rug."
"We understand that they have concerns over this incident just as we do. This is something we're taking very seriously," Public Safety Director Michael Huss said.
Sgt. Hlavac, a night-shift supervisor at Zone 2 in the Hill District, is temporarily assigned to the warrant office while the criminal and internal investigations are pending.
Although Mr. Huss acknowledged that Sgt. Hlavac would be entitled to due process and an internal hearing before any discipline is meted out, he said, "Further disciplinary action is pending."
Mr. Huss would not give any details or say whether discipline could include a demotion.
Officer Dan O'Hara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the move to the warrant office when Sgt. Hlavac returns to duty from vacation is meant to limit his interaction with the public.
"He's simply approving reports, just proofreading stuff, basically," Officer O'Hara said.
A preliminary hearing for Sgt. Hlavac is scheduled for today.
"I think a clearer picture will develop [today], and I think it will enlighten a lot of folks because they're going to hear from an independent, unbiased witness as to what happened," Sgt. Hlavac's lawyer, Phillip DiLucente, said yesterday.
Mr. DiLucente declined to identify the witness.
As for the letter to the mayor, Mr. DiLucente said he respected the National Council of Jewish Women and other women's rights groups. But he added, "I would just hope that anyone would reserve any opinion until all of the facts come out in this particular case."
Sgt. Hlavac was the subject of controversy in 2007 when he was promoted despite police being called to his home for verbal disputes with Ms. Maughan. He was sent to anger management training.
First Published December 22, 2009 12:00 am