Lawsuit alleges graphic comments by Bangor police chief to officers

Van Buren County

BANGOR, Mich. (WOOD) — Three Bangor police officers have sued the police chief — who is also the city manager — accusing him of making extremely lewd comments to them while on the job.

The 23-page lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday outlines allegations of overtly sexual comments by Chief Tommy Simpson to or about three male police officers, including one who still works there. The suit also alleges Mayor Darren Williams — also named as a defendant in the suit — and city attorney tried to intimidate the officers to cover it up.

An undated courtesy photo of Bangor Police Chief Tommy Simpson.

The comments listed in the lawsuit are graphic. The document claims the chief would often make comments about the officers’ bodies and would request they engage in sexual acts with him or with others so he could watch. It says he would sometimes find ways to touch or put his arms around one of the officers. The officers said he would share stories of sexual encounters while staying at hotels for work events and even “hooking up” with college guys at the University of Notre Dame.

“You couldn’t make this stuff up if you were trying to write a light-time Showtime special that would air at 2 in the morning,” Jon Marko, the attorney representing the officers, told News 8 in a Zoom call Friday. “And this was happening at a public entity to police officers to police officers who were just trying to do their job by their boss.”

On top of that, he said, is the way the city tried to squash officers’ formal complaints.

“They were retaliated against and punished,” Marko said. “This is a culture of silence that they try to retaliate against victims so they know that they need to be silent and that they’re afraid to come forward. That’s why we have these laws that protect survivors and people whose constitutional rights have been violated. Because without an anti-retaliation protection, people would not be able to speak up or report what was going on and nothing would ever change.”

The suit alleges the officers’ rights under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, the Michigan Whistleblowers’ Protection Act and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, among other laws.

Marko said the goal of his lawsuit was to hold Simpson and the mayor accountable and to create change to prevent future harassment.

Simpson is still the chief in Bangor. Speaking to News 8 Friday, he said he was aware that a suit could be coming but that he had not yet read it. He declined comment.

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