New York City police officer Matthew Schindler, who was a 15-year NYPD veteran, a husband, and a father of three children, took his life recently. Sadly, Officer Schindler succumbed to alleged workplace harassment and pressures allegedly brought on by his supervisor, Sgt. Christine Hertzel.
Officer Schindler's wife, Gina Schindler, has waged a lawsuit against Hertzel for allegedly pressuring her husband into having sexual relations with him in exchange for promise of a better work schedule.
The documents pertaining to the lawsuit and internal investigation reveal that Officer Schindler begged Sgt. Hertzel to amicably conclude their affair. In persistenly bullying Officer Schindler to engage in a sexual affair, the lawsuit claims, Sgt. Hertzel is culpable in the suicide death of Officer Schindler.
The court documents delineate that Officer Schindler pleaded with Hertzel to conclude their affair or he would kill himself from the guilt brought about by their respective extramarital relations; both were married. Both Sgt. Christine Hertzel and Officer Schindler were assigned to the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Further explained in the court affidavits were details as to Schindler, 39, particularly that he “was made to understand that he would suffer tangible detriment in his job, job assignments, work conditions and future prospects if he did not submit to the sexual advances and demands of Hertzel.” Moreover, the lawsuit states the bullying and sexual harassment originated in March 2011 when the affair commenced.
After being transferred to the 115th Precinct in March 2011, assigned as a highway safety officer, Hertzel became Schindler's direct supervisor. Consequently, Hertzel was charged with the responsibility to generate Schindler's work schedule, directly control his duty assignments and "affect the day-to-day conditions of decedent's employment," per the lawsuit content. Gina Schindler believes these were the makings of the relationship by which Sgt. Hertzel essentially extorted her husband: better work environment in exchange for sex.
Officer Schindler's spouse, Gina Schindler, believes it is the pressures from Sgt. Hertzel under whose command her husband was subjected to the alleged sexual indiscretions, that compelled him to end his life.
Officer Schindler utilized his agency-issued service firearm to commit suicide, hours after he rendered one more plea to Sgt. Hertzel to agree to end their extramarital relations. Sgt. Hertzel is also married, as had been the status throughout the alleged affair between her and Officer Schindler.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 22nd in Queens Supreme Court, NY, alleges a despondent Schindler shot himself with his service weapon on the way home from work, in his car at approximately 4:30 p.m., after pulling over to the shoulder on the Long Island Expressway. Officer Schindler's threat and eventual fateful decision arrived after telling Hertzel her advances towards him were unwelcomed. Specifically, as outlined in the lawsuit, Officer Schindler allegedly informed Sgt. Hertzel her sexual advances were "unwanted, repugnant and causing him psychic injury and suffering."
With the direct knowledge in-hand that Officer Schindler was contemplating suicide, Sgt. Hertzel reportedly conferred with her police captain and informed him of the suicide threats made to her by Officer schindler. Allegedly, the police captain attempted to contact Officer Schindler via telephone "to rectify the hostile work environment and persuade him against suicide," the lawsuit says.
In contrast to Gina Schindler's account, however, and shortly after Schindler took his own life, Hertzel, 41, told NYPD Internal Affairs investigators that their relationship was consensual and that Officer Schindler became despondent after she decided to break-off their relationship, according to the New York Daily News.
Gina Schindler, alleging the workplace harassment and bullying violated her husband's civil rights and therefore filed the lawsuit. Litigants in the lawsuit are as follows: New York City, the NYPD and Sgt. Hertzel.
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