IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The assistant director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy announced Thursday he will retire after enduring months of criticism for making inappropriate sexual and threatening remarks to female cadets and colleagues.
Michael Quinn, 71, told The Associated Press that he would retire June 30 because he wants to spend more time with his wife and children, ages 8, 5 and 2, while he remains healthy.
Senate Democrats have repeatedly pointed to Quinn’s continued employment as an example of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad administration’s mismanagement and insensitivity to women. Earlier this month, Sen. Robert Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, blasted Quinn’s behavior and the governor’s response.
“If Governor Branstad is concerned about abuse, why hasn’t he fired Mike Quinn?” Hogg said in a fiery speech on the Senate floor. Democrats also proposed a plan to eliminate funding for Quinn’s job.
Quinn said that he had always planned to retire in 2014 and that neither the governor’s office nor Academy Director Arlen Ciechanowski asked him to step down. He said the end of the budget year was the “logical time” to leave.
“I’ve attempted to do the right thing, and I’m very proud of my 48 years of service serving law enforcement and the state of Iowa,” he said.
A 2012 state Department of Administrative Services investigation found that Quinn violated anti-discrimination and violence-free workplace policies at the academy, which is based at Camp Dodge in Johnston and trains police officers, jailers and dispatchers.
The investigation found that he asked female recruits taking a sex abuse investigation class whether “penis size matters,” talked about his sex life in front of them and told colleagues that his “package is on ice” after he underwent a vasectomy. He also warned instructor Nancy Brady, who had filed a complaint about remarks that students found offensive, that he would “slit your throat” if she spent too much time talking with another worker.
The AP found the academy hired Quinn for a Violence Against Women training position in 2000, even though he’d abruptly resigned his previous job as a Webster City administrator after a female subordinate accused him of bullying and inappropriately touching her.
Elizabeth Barnhill, executive director of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said it was amazing that Quinn kept his job for as long as he did. She said the academy’s director, Ciechanowski, should be replaced for employing someone with a history of improper behavior and fostering “a culture of disrespect” toward women.
Ciechanowski said that wasn’t true.
“We have taken this situation very seriously,” he said. “A complete investigation was conducted by DAS, and those recommendations were followed.”
Quinn said his inappropriate classroom comments were “certainly an inadvertent thing and I wish it wouldn’t have happened.” He said the criticism has bothered him at times.
Hogg, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Quinn’s departure was long overdue but that he was “deeply troubled” it won’t happen for 2 ½ months.
Ciechanowski reprimanded Quinn and gave him a final warning after the 2012 investigation, but let him keep his $91,000 per-year job. He praised Quinn’s experience as a former police chief of Newton and his expertise handling the academy’s budget. Meanwhile, Ciechanowski in January 2013 fired Brady, who says she was unfairly accused of threatening Ciechanowski.
After Brady complained to the Crime Victims Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, Quinn was removed last year as the academy’s Violence Against Women Act coordinator, in which he oversaw domestic abuse and sexual violence training under a federal grant. The division cut the academy’s grant funding, helped hire a new trainer and made changes to address student complaints sooner.
Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers declined comment on Quinn’s retirement. He noted last week that Quinn’s discipline followed recommendations by the state’s human resources agency.
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