Firefighter accused in gay harassment incident to be promoted

Eight years ago, three volunteer firefighters in the town of Secaucus resigned after an alleged bias incident in which members of the department allegedly threw bottles and shouted at a homosexual couple living next door. The resulting lawsuit cost the town of Secaucus $4.8 million.
One of those volunteers is now a full-time member of the North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue squad, which services five towns in Hudson County. Charles Snyder is set to be promoted to captain on Monday.
In response to questions from the Secaucus Reporter, a spokesman for North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue said, “Snyder has a satisfactory record as a firefighter, scored highly on the statewide civil service promotional exam and possesses all the necessary qualifications for promotion to fire captain. The Regional is committed to equal treatment of all residents and is aware of the incident in Mr. Snyder’s past. We believe he has moved beyond this and dedicated himself to keeping our communities safe as a firefighter.”
The incident in question occurred back in 2004 and was litigated over four years.
In 2008, a gay couple who no longer live in Secaucus testified that they had received two years of anti-gay harassment by a few members of the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department. They claimed that the most harassment occurred one night in 2004 when items were thrown at their home and a death threat was shouted outside.
In 2008, a jury in Hudson County Superior Court awarded the couple $2.8 million in damages from the town of Secaucus and another $2 million for legal fees.
Snyder was never arrested or charged in the incident. He and two other firefighters — his son Charles and a man named Charles Mutschler — were accused of the harassment in police reports and court testimony. During the trial, the men were on the stand, but took the Fifth Amendment. When the trial ended, the firefighters were supposed to have a closed hearing. Instead of facing the hearing, they chose to resign from the department.
Snyder did not respond to a message left with the department on Wednesday. NHRFR Fire Chief Frank Montagne also did not respond to a message.
Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli, who is also a volunteer fireman in town, denied to comment on Snyder’s new promotion.
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