A New York Police Department captain who has already been sued twice for allegedly abusing female officers was hit with two fresh lawsuits after he was the subject of an NBC News investigation into sexual harassment and gender discrimination in big-city law enforcement.
Capt. Salvatore Marchese now stands accused of sexual harassment or gender discrimination in four cases since 2013. The 2013 case, which involved an officer who alleged he forced her to perform oral sex, was settled for $100,000, documents show. In August 2022, he was sued for allegedly harassing a pregnant officer and forcing her to work overnight shifts.
The two new lawsuits filed Wednesday against Marchese and the city allege that Marchese berated female underlings — including a lieutenant — for being pregnant or having to take care of their children. There was no admission of wrongdoing in the case that was settled and Marchese has denied wrongdoing in response to all of the suits.
The NYPD promoted Marchese to captain in 2018 and assigned him to run stationhouses in Manhattan and the Bronx, NYPD personnel records show.
“It’s really outlandish how they keep letting this man go from command to command, treating people this way,” said former Lt. Ebony Huntley, a plaintiff in one of the two new suits. The single mom, who as a Black female lieutenant was a rarity in the NYPD, said she retired early to escape Marchese’s abuse.
“Shame on this department for allowing that to happen,” Huntley said.
A December NBC News investigation found that the NYPD along with some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies are rife with sexual harassment and gender discrimination against female officers. Reviews of more than 60 lawsuits that were settled or won at trial since 2017, thousands of pages of internal police documents and interviews with female officers, across ranks, found that women who speak out often lose their careers, while many men face little consequences.
Of the 87 NYPD officers accused in court papers of abusing female officers, 27 have since moved up in rank, according to an NBC News review, including Marchese.
Marchese did not respond to requests for comment. The New York City Law Department, which represents the city legally, and Marchese's union representative at the Captains Endowment Association also did not respond.
In a statement, the NYPD declined to comment on pending litigation, but said, “The Department does not tolerate discrimination in any form and is committed to respectful work environments for our diverse workforce. The NYPD thoroughly investigates all complaints it receives, and offers several reporting options for NYPD employees, including anonymously.”
“The NYPD has been on notice of Marchese’s bigoted treatment of women for more than a decade, yet has failed to take corrective action,” said attorney John Scola, who is representing Huntley and the two other women with pending suits against Marchese over his alleged behavior.
Before crossing paths with Marchese, Huntley had worked for the department for 20 years as a narcotics officer, a detective and a street sergeant.
“I am not a softy,” Huntley said.
Huntley said things changed when Marchese became her boss in September 2022.
Officer Anajess Alvarez had filed a lawsuit in August alleging that Marchese, then running a different stationhouse in the Bronx, presided over a toxic work environment and refused to move her off the overnight shift when she was pregnant. That case is currently in discovery.
The department transferred Marchese to the stationhouse where Huntley worked in Upper Manhattan.
“I was like, ‘Hey, he can’t be that bad,’” Huntley said.
Tensions flared, she said, when she refused Marchese’s demand that she punish a female officer who had complained about Marchese’s alleged abuse while she was pregnant and after her child was born. Huntley said she refused Marchese’s demand that she deny the officer time off and take away her assignments.
That officer, Elizabeth Munoz, filed her own gender discrimination lawsuit this week against Marchese and the city of New York, the fourth suit against the captain. Like Huntley and Alvarez, she is represented by Scola.
Huntley said once she defended Munoz, the retaliation began. She said Marchese would berate her, openly insulting her in front of other police.
“This is more than just a hostile environment. This is sick. It has affected every person’s life in this command in a negative way,” a male officer who works in the stationhouse said. The officer, whom NBC News is not naming since he is not authorized to speak publicly, added that the NYPD’s current police commissioner, the first woman to run the department, “should have zero tolerance for discrimination against any female on this job.”
Things got so bad, Huntley alleges in her complaint, that five of her sergeants complained about Marchese’s behavior to internal affairs.
Huntley said she lasted less than four months under Marchese’s watch. She said she had no choice but to retire early in January after he pulled her off the midnight shift. She said he ignored her pleas that she has to care for a young son and a father with cancer.
“I’m a woman, I’m Black, I’m a single parent. It’s been hard all the way through,” Huntley said. “I did not deserve to be treated the way this man treated me.”