PROVO — The City of Provo will pay $750,000 to settle a sexual harassment case five women brought against the city and its former police chief John King.
The case, filed in 4th District Court in March, alleged a “pervasive pattern of assault and harassment” from King that "ultimately culminated in the rape" of a woman who was volunteering with the police department at the time, according to court documents.
The lawsuit also alleges that Provo City officials "learned of Chief King’s sexual harassment ... early in King’s tenure, but declined to take any steps to address that behavior."
The lawsuit will be dismissed as a result of the settlement, part of which has been paid by Provo City’s insurer, according to an emailed statement attorneys involved with the case released Thursday.
Michael Young, attorney for the five plaintiffs, said the women were ready to move on from the lawsuit.
“The plaintiffs feel that it was unfortunate that it was necessary to file a lawsuit to resolve their complaints,” Young said in the statement. “That said, these women are eager to put the lawsuit behind them and concentrate on moving forward.”
Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi said in the statement that city officials felt they dealt with the complaints appropriately when they were filed.
“The City also recognized that we would spend a substantial amount of money in mounting a defense of our actions in federal court,” Kaufusi said. “We also wanted to bring the issue to conclusion to allow healing among our police department employees and be able to move forward from these incidents.”
King was hired as police chief in November 2013, according to the lawsuit. U.S. Rep. John Curtis was mayor of Provo at the time. Earlier this year, Curtis called the allegations against King “appalling,” and said he fully supported the women. Curtis also said he would never shield or protect an abuser, according to a Deseret News article.
The four other women who brought the suit were also employees of the police department, according to court documents.
The suit alleges that King isolated, assaulted and harassed the women, and that he engaged in nonconsensual sexual contact with one of the women in January 2017.
Curtis put King on administrative leave after the woman reported the incident to him, according to court documents. However, Curtis allegedly told the department the reason for King’s leave was for personal reasons, according to the lawsuit.
City officials also planned a going-away party for King after his resignation, despite the allegations, according to the suit.
King maintained that he had four sexual encounters with a volunteer at his department, and all the encounters were consensual, according to police documents released last year.