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Patrolman accused of assault is rehired

Pittsfield mayor, council OK’d move in July

PITTSFIELD -- A patrolman fired from the Pittsfield police force after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman while on duty was rehired by the city last month.

Mayor James M. Ruberto and the City Council met in closed session in July and approved the rehiring of Patrick Duffy over the objections of the police union.

Duffy was fired Sept. 4, 2002, less than four weeks after a woman alleged that he came to her home and sexually assaulted her, The Berkshire Eagle reported.

His 2002 termination came just one day before his year of probation was due to end. During that period, an officer can be removed from duty at the discretion of the mayor, with little right to an appeal.

When Ruberto moved to rehire Duffy July 13, the police officers' union objected. After a two-hour, closed-door meeting July 13, the council overrode the department's concerns and approved Duffy's appointment by a 9-to-1 vote. He is now back on the force.

Ruberto has said Duffy deserved a second chance.

On Friday, Ruberto's office released the report of the Police Department investigation that led to Duffy's firing, as well as Duffy's written statement about the alleged incident.

According to the report, which was prepared Sept. 4, 2002, a woman filed a complaint Aug. 15, 2002, that Duffy had come to her house while in uniform and on duty, had grabbed her, pulled her shirt off, and kissed her breast. The alleged incident never led to criminal charges against Duffy, who had met the woman about two weeks before the alleged encounter.

Duffy's account was very different. He said that after he went to the woman's house, she grabbed him and tried to kiss him. After he objected, she asked him to return later. When he did, her father told him that he was not welcome, and he left, according to the account.

The Eagle could not reach Duffy for comment. Duffy's lawyer, Leonard Cohen of Pittsfield, said he would not discuss the specifics of the report because he did not want to violate secrecy rules surrounding executive sessions of the City Council.

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