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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Harassment Complaint Filed Against Hobart Police

Believed to be first ever complaint filed in northwest Indiana based on gender identity

[HOBART] -- Leslie Fox is tired of being threatened. He's (sic) afraid to leave his apartment at times for fear of what might happen to him.

He believes he is being targeted because of his sexual orientation (sic). He is a pre-operative transsexual.

The individual allegedly harassing Fox is a Hobart police officer -- and his neighbor. Fox said he filed a complaint with the police department last month and will file another one this week against the officer.

He also filed a complaint with the FBI last week and will meet with an agent early this week to request further investigation of his allegations.

An FBI official said Friday the agency will listen to Fox's side of the story, but the allegations may be difficult to prove because most civil rights cases involve a form of brutality or personal injury, and the federal Civil Rights Act does not protect individuals based on their sexual orientation.

Hobart Police Chief Brian Snedecor said he believes Fox's concerns involve a civilian disagreement, and have nothing to do with an officer's performance of his duties.

However, Fox said since October he has been repeatedly threatened, mocked and belittled because of who he is and his lifestyle.

One time, he claims, the officer allegedly blocked him from entering his apartment unit. Another time, the officer supposedly told Fox "I don't like your kind."

When the exchanges occur, Fox said he has not been wearing makeup or unusual clothing. The officer, he said, usually comes home during his shift and the incidents generally occur when he is in police uniform.

He said the police department and the mayor's office no longer respond to his telephone calls.

Charles Porucznik, senior supervisory agent in the FBI's Merrillville office, said after talking with Fox this week, agents will decide whether a potential civil rights violation exists. If one does, Porucznik said the FBI will investigate and present a report to the U.S. Department of Justice, where officials will decide if further action is warranted.

But just by looking at the basic outline of the complaint, Porucznik said it would be difficult to prove the charge. While Fox said he has been pushed by a police officer, he has not been physically harmed.

Porucznik said he believes Fox's complaint is the first filed in Northwest Indiana because of someone's lifestyle.

Snedecor said Assistant Chief Robert Paulson, who could not be reached for comment Friday, has handled most of the specifics regarding Fox's complaints to the city.

"We've tried to work with Leslie Fox as to any issues he's had with any officer," Snedecor said. "I don't think that this has anything to do with the performance of an officer in his official duties."

Mayor Linda Buzinec said she was aware of Fox's allegations. A few months ago, she said she spoke with Fox over the telephone.

"I told him I'd get back to him, but every time I tried to call, the line was busy," she said.

Buzinec said she, too, referred the case to Paulson and asked him to reach Fox by telephone. She said she hasn't yet checked with Paulson to see if he reached Fox.

Fox said he visited the mayor's office at the end of April, after filing a harassment complaint with the police department. He left a message for Buzinec with her secretary, but said he has yet to hear back from her. He also said he received no phone call from police after he filed the complaint.

Snedecor said he wasn't aware of the specifics in the case, but said Paulson did contact Fox.

"I believe the information that I have is that Paulson made efforts to look into the matter," Snedecor said. "To my knowledge, no evidence of any wrongdoing was found."

For his part, Fox said, "I'm not interested in filing a lawsuit. I'm not interested in the money, I just want to live my life."

Gina Czark can be reached at or .

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