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Weare police assistant sued former employer for sexual harassment

Last modified: 9/23/2014 1:14:20 AM
The assistant who has accused Weare police Chief John Velleca of shoving her to the ground following a brief affair also claims to have suffered sexual harassment at a previous job in Manchester.

Jennifer Posteraro, 40, filed suit last year against her former employer, Citizens Bank, and a supervisor at its branch in Stop & Shop Supermarket on South Willow Street. Posteraro was a banker at the branch from September 2010 to August 2011, according to her federal complaint.

Posteraro notes in the suit that she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from an abusive past relationship. She said she disclosed the diagnosis to her supervisor, but that he and others continued to harass her with taunts and sexual commentary.

Lawyers for the bank and supervisor have denied the allegations. The case is scheduled for trial next summer.

Posteraro was later transferred to a different branch, but said she was repeatedly yelled at and reprimanded there, according to the complaint. She left on medical leave in May 2011 and was fired that August, it states.

Posteraro was hired by the Weare Police Department in January and became Velleca’s full-time assistant in May. She took out a restraining order against the chief last week, claiming that he aggressively pushed her at her home in Hillsboro earlier this month. Posteraro contends that Velleca was trying to take her department-issued cell phone, which she was allegedly using to call his wife.

The attorney general’s office is exploring whether to conduct a criminal investigation. So far no charges have been filed against Velleca.

Both Velleca and Posteraro have been placed on paid administrative leave. Posteraro’s attorney, Benjamin King, said yesterday that hers was effective through at least today. Velleca, 45, is on a 30-day leave and has been in Connecticut, where his wife and daughter reside.

King, whose firm Douglas, Leonard & Garvey is also representing Posteraro in her 2013 lawsuit, said state investigators interviewed her Wednesday.

The town of Weare has declined to turn over several documents sought through a right-to-know request, including hiring records and transcripts from both Velleca’s and Posteraro’s department cell phones. Mark Broth, an attorney for the town, said the town does not currently have possession of the phones.

A hearing on the restraining order is set for Oct. 15 in Hillsboro’s district court.

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)


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