The woman suing the Monmouth County SPCA and Victor “Buddy” Amato for harassment has a history of suing her employers for sexual harassment and work related injuries.
According to published reports and interviews, Suzzane DesMarais has won a six figure settlement, multiple workers’ compensation claims and disability pay resulting from her employment as a part-time Special Class II police officer in Long Branch and Plumsted.
She suffered two house fires in six years. After the second fire, she raised money in the name of Chaos Foundation, named for her chocolate lab that perished in the fire. The New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs does not have a Chaos Foundation listed as a registered charity.
DesMarais, represented by the Shrewsbury law firm Shebell and Shebell, filed suit in Monmouth Superior Court on March second. The former police officer, who worked for MCSPCA as an animal control officer, claimed that Amato regularly sent her racist, sexist and homophobic text messages while she was on the job. She claims that after she complained to Amato’s superiors that she stopped receiving work and that no corrective action was taken against Amato. Amato resigned as the SPCA Police Chief after the suit became public through a story on BuzzFeedNews. Garden State Equality, the gay rights advocacy group of which DesMarais is a member, claims it connected her to BuzzFeed to bring public attention to the lawsuit.
Amato seemed to verify the accuracy of the vulgar and bigoted texts revealed in the BuzzFeed report when he told the Asbury Park Press that they were “jokes between a bunch of guys.”
According to published reports and interviews, DesMarias has been down this road before.
The Asbury Park Press reported on February 4, 2010 that Plumsted Township agreed to pay DesMarais $275,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against her superior officer, Lt. George Titko. DesMarias claimed that Titko sent her a sexually suggestive text message, photographed her buttocks and subsequently posted the photo on a Police Department wall. She also alleged that Titko left sex toys on her desk.
Titko, 51, resigned from the department in July of 2009 following an administrative review of the department conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor.
DesMarais had been hired as a part-time Special Class II officer in Plumstead in early 2007, according to a Greater Media report.
She claimed a work related knee injury later in 2007 and filed the sexual harassment suit against Titko and the Township in 2008. She was not rehired by Plumstead in 2009, for medical reasons as a workers’ comp judge ordered that she be paid 70% of her salary through disability insurance.
Prior to her employment with the Plumsted Police Department, DesMarais was a Special Class II Officer in Long Branch for nine years. During her tenure in Long Branch, DesMarais was known as a “slip and fall artist” who was frequently off the job collecting workers’ comp or disability pay, according to an officer who is not authorized to speak for the department. A former Long Branch official told MMM that DesMarais had two injury related law suits against the City before moving on to Plumsted.
On the job injuries are not the only calamities in DesMarais history. In May of 2006, there was a fire in her Jackson home. On the same day as that fire the North Shore Animal League issued a press released crediting Toby, the one year old shepherd mix DesMarais adopted through the agency, with preventing the fire from destroying the home.
Six years later, fire struck DesMarais’ Jackson home again. Toby survived, but another dog, a chocolate lab named Chaos perished in the fire.
DeMarais held a fundraiser at Ron’s West End Pub in Long Branch to raise money to repair her home, according to a person who attended and donated $50. She later founded the Chaos Foundation, named for the perished chocolate lab, ostensibly to spread love, compassion and assistance to others in recovery, and to provide CPR masks to police, fire and EMS squads, according to an article in The Virginia-Maryland Dog magazine which directed readers to make donations to the foundation through its facebook page.
The Chaos Foundation facebook page could not be found today. However, DesMarais was promoting the foundation as recently as last September through her personal facebook page.
A search of registered New Jersey charities on the Division of Consumer Affairs website revealed no listing for the Chaos Foundation.
None of this information about DesMarais mitigates the vulgarity and reprehensible sentiments expressed in Amato’s texts as reported by BuzzFeedNews.
DesMarais did not respond to a message asking for comment.