NYPD Cop's Widow Says Husband Driven to Suicide by Boss' Sexual Advances
JACKSON HEIGHTS — A married NYPD cop killed himself last year because his frisky female supervisor repeatedly pressured him to have sex or face a bad work schedule, a new lawsuit charges.
The widow of veteran officer Matthew Schindler is suing the police department and Sgt. Christine Hertzel, claiming his Feb. 13, 2012, suicide was brought on by sexual harassment at his job at the 115th Precinct.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 22 in Queens Supreme Court, alleges a despondent Schindler, 39, shot himself with his service handgun on the way from work to his Long Island home after telling Hertzel to keep her hands off him.
It adds that he told Hertzel her unrelenting advances had left him depressed, but she refused to let up.
"Schindler told defendant Hertzel, her sexual advances and demands and their concomitant impact on his work environment and career outlook had caused him to contemplate suicide," the lawsuit says.
Schindler, who joined the NYPD in 1997, was transferred to the 115th Precinct in March 2011 and served as a highway safety officer. The lawsuit describes Hertzel as Schindler's direct supervisor who had the power to make his work schedule, control his assignments and "affect the day-to-day conditions of decedent's employment."
After Schindler started at the 115th Precinct, Hertzel allegedly began demanding that he have sex with her. The lawsuit claims the two had sexual relations and Hertzel tied Schindler's job happiness to keeping the hanky panky going.
"The hours of work and work shifts of decedent, Matthew Schindler, were dependent on his submission to the sexual advances and demands of defendant, Christine Hertzel," the lawsuit says.
"Schindler was made to understand that he would suffer tangible detriment in his job, job assignments, working conditions and future prospects if he did not submit to the sexual advances and demands of defendant, Christine Hertzel," the lawsuit added.
On the day he killed himself, Schindler confronted Hertzel and said her sexual advances were "unwanted, repugnant and causing him psychic injury and suffering," according to the lawsuit. Hertzel allegedly refused to stop her come-ons and, despite Schindler's suicidal threats, allowed him to leave the precinct station house with his gun.
Hertzel then allegedly told a precinct captain about the sexual relationship and Schindler's threats. The captain tried to call Schindler "to rectify the hostile work environment and persuade him against suicide," the lawsuit says.
Schindler shot himself in his car about 4:30 p.m. after pulling over to the side of the Long Island Expressway.
At the time, the father of three was the fourth NYPD cop to kill himself in a month.
Schindler's widow, Gina, claims in the lawsuit that the sexual advances violated her husband's civil rights. The lawsuit does not specify how much she seeks in damages.
Her lawyer did not immediately return call for comment.
A spokeswoman for the city Law Department said it was reviewing the claims but could not comment further.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Hertzel could not be reached for comment.