PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence firefighter who was suspended without pay after he was arrested in 2015 on charges of indecent solicitation of a minor and electronically disseminating indecent material to a minor is suing the city for allegedly violating his rights to a due process.
Jason August, 32, filed the lawsuit in federal court Wednesday accusing Pubic Safety Commissioner Steven Pare of two counts of unlawful suspension. Pare and the city of Providence are named as defendants in the suit.
August claims Pare violated the firefighters’ union’s collective bargaining agreement by suspending him without pay and violated his constitutional rights by failing to advise him of his rights to challenge the suspension. He is seeking to return to his job and to recoup earnings he would have received if he had not been suspended.
A spokesperson for the city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
August was arrested in 2015 outside the Admiral Street Fire Station following a six-month investigation by the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. He has pleaded not guilty and the case is still pending, according Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office.
The task force received a tip from Boston Police Department indicating August was being investigated for allegedly asking for nude photographs from a minor. According to an affidavit filed by Rhode Island State Police, August had reason to believe the Boston 15-year-old at the end of his messages was a minor. One string included in the document involves August using the screen name “Jay Daddy”, talking to the teen about his age.
In the lawsuit, August’s lawyers claim he only learned he was suspended without pay through a news report. In February, the city notified August he was going to be terminated from the department.
The suit states that August’s lawyers have demanded he return to work and receive back pay for his suspension, but Pare told them the city was standing by its decision.
Walt Buteau contributed to this report.