Chicago cop promoted to lieutenant amid sexual misconduct investigation, lawsuit
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Chicago police Lt. Gerald Breimon has been accused of fondling a woman he told he needed to frisk for weapons during a traffic stop, demanding sex from another woman — a cop — and threatening to ruin the officer’s career if she didn’t comply.
Facing an internal investigation and a lawsuit, Breimon remains on the job.
While under investigation, the Chicago Police Department promoted him in May, moving him up from sergeant to lieutenant, with a significant pay raise, and giving him a plum assignment helping to oversee the South Chicago District.
Taxpayers are covering the cost of the 5-year-old sexual misconduct lawsuit against Breimon and the city — with the tab for outside lawyers so far totaling about $75,000.
Court records in the case spell out a host of allegations of sex-capades involving Breimon and also former colleagues at the Shakespeare District that covers Wicker Park and Bucktown. The allegations include:
• Sex between cops during work hours.
• Sex acts in squad cars.
• A cop masturbating in his squad car.
• Married cops having foursomes with other cop couples during their off-duty hours.
It’s all laid out in lengthy depositions taken by lawyers for City Hall, which is defending Breimon in a lawsuit filed by Officer Kelly Hespe, who says in the suit that she had sex with Breimon to keep her job.
While questioning Breimon during a deposition, Hespe’s lawyer said of the Shakespeare station, “It sounds like a frat house.”
Breimon, 50, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
He was “promoted off the civil service” list, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. That means his scores on a promotions test got him his current, $124,000-a-year post and that he wasn’t clouted into the job through a “merit promotion” that supervisors can hand out regardless of their scores.
Breimon was “in good standing at the time of his promotion,” Guglielmi says.
Breimon was a security guard at Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles when he entered the Chicago Police Academy in 1993. At the time, his mother Jan Pestka was a lieutenant with the department.
Breimon rose quickly through the ranks, landing coveted assignments.
As a rookie patrol officer, he was assigned to the East Chicago District that covers the North Loop, including the bustling Rush/Division entertainment district.
“I wanted to go to a fast district where I’d learn how to be the police,” Breimon says in sworn pretrial testimony he gave three years ago in Hespe’s lawsuit.
In 1996, he was transferred to the Special Operations Section, or SOS, which worked tough undercover cases — and had a reputation for being stacked with cops with connections who had little supervision and didn’t always play by the rules. The elite, citywide unit was disbanded amid a 2006 scandal over rogue officers taking part in home invasions and robberies of drug dealers.
Breimon, who once attended a downstate high school seminary that trained future Catholic priests, says in his deposition that he never applied for SOS or even filled out the paperwork for the job. He says he didn’t know whether his mother — who rose to be an assistant deputy superintendent — helped get him the job. She hung up on a reporter.
Pestka retired in 2001 and, according to her LinkedIn online profile, now works for United Service Cos., a security, staffing and janitorial company run by Rick Simon, a former Chicago cop who has city contracts.
In 2000, Breimon was promoted to sergeant — based on his test scores, records show — and transferred to the Belmont District, which includes parts of Lake View and Lincoln Park.
While on patrol in the overnight hours of Sept. 23, 2003, Breimon, wearing his white sergeant’s shirt, pulled over a young woman. She later told authorities that he ordered her to follow him to a parking lot near Lane Tech High School, ordered her out of her car, frisked her under her clothing — touching her breasts and vagina — and took photos of her with a disposable camera while she was half-clad.
According to a complaint the woman filed with the police department, Breimon also looked through her phone and asked her about texts from a friend who was a backup catcher for the White Sox.
A few weeks later, she hired the law firm of powerbroker and former Ald. Edward R. Vrdolyak and sued the city and Breimon.
Chicago police arrested Breimon based on the woman’s allegations and her description of her attacker wearing a white sergeant’s shirt. A grand jury indicted Breimon on charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, unlawful restraint and official misconduct.
Breimon, who denied any wrongdoing, was stripped of his police powers and placed on desk duty, where he remained for nearly five years, until the case ended.
Breimon’s criminal case was pending when the woman dropped her lawsuit in early 2006, signing a statement saying her encounter with Breimon was a misunderstanding. Under the settlement, she got $10,000 from City Hall and an undisclosed amount of money from Breimon.
Months later, the woman said she hadn’t read the deal she signed, telling prosecutors she’d signed the statement only intending to end the civil case and collect money from Breimon but not meaning to recant her allegations.
The following year, as Breimon’s trial date was set, the woman moved to Oregon and wouldn’t return to testify, so the charges against Breimon were dropped.
The police department’s Internal Affairs Division urged then-Supt. Jody Weiss to fire Breimon, but he was reinstated without any punishment and assigned to the Shakespeare District in 2008.
About a year later, Breimon, who was married, began having sex with Hespe, a subordinate whose husband also was a Chicago cop, court records show. It went on for about three years, according to the records.
Hespe, who held a news conference to announce her lawsuit, says in court records that they had sex in squad cars, in the station house and in the police parking lot and that, when she tried to break things off with Breimon, he threatened to use his mother’s connections to ruin Hespe’s career if she wouldn’t keep having sex with him.
In her deposition, Hespe says she gave in, continuing to have sex with Breimon, who she describes as having sought control over her life.
In his deposition, Breimon denied forcing Hespe to have sex and pointed out that his mother had retired from the police department years before he met Hespe.
“I never demanded sexual activity from Kelly Hespe at any time,” Breimon says under oath. “Kelly Hespe talked very flirtatious all the time. I mean, she would — we would converse back and forth via text message or telephone conversation about sexually related conversations, but nothing ever took place inside a squad car.”
But Breimon says in the deposition that they did have sex in the police station parking lot “in her van before work. There were several instances. . . before it was time to go to work.”
According to Breimon, it “was probably not even in excess of five” times.
The depositions from Breimon and Hespe provide an account not just of their liaisons but also of sexual activity involving other cops in that district while on duty.
A male officer who once partnered with Hespe masturbated in front of her as they sat in their squad car on duty, according to Hespe’s sworn statement. The officer, who declined to speak with a reporter, then asked for a tissue from the glove compartment, according to Hespe.
Breimon says in his deposition that Hespe had told him about numerous other sexual encounters she had with other officers since being hired in 2001.
In her deposition, when questioned by the city’s lawyers, Hespe wouldn’t talk about her “sexual history” with anyone other than Breimon.
While Hespe was assigned to the summer bicycle patrol unit, Breimon testified that she told him she had performed oral sex on two male officers also working bike patrol.
Breimon, who in some cases named names, said Hespe had sex with other officers in the police station and had a foursome with other cops.
Breimon also said Shakespeare District cops had sex in the supervisor’s locker room and the station’s supply room.
The police department won’t say whether it has looked into any of the allegations.
Breimon said he had a consensual relationship with Hespe and that he had no supervisory authority over her.
During Breimon’s deposition, Hespe’s attorney Daniel Herbert asked him to explain voicemails he left when she tried to rebuff him, including one message in 2012. Herbert asked whether Breimon recalled saying, “It’s fine. I’m so used to you threatening me like s—. Just turn off your phone. I’m just calling to see if you got the text . . . the text message that you said you never got. If you want to treat me like s—, like I’m a f—ing n—–, that’s fine. I’m a f—ing n—–. I admit it. I’m a f—ing n—-r, and I deserve to be treated like a piece of s—.”
Breimon said, “I don’t remember any of these voicemails, counsel.”
Herbert asked, “Do you ever remember using the N-word with Kelly Hespe?”
Breimon said, “I believe . . . I said that that’s the way I felt sometimes.”
Hespe, 47, and her husband divorced in 2011, though he continued to live with her while her encounters with Breimon continued until 2012, according to court records. She went on medical leave in March 2013, later seeking disability payments, says she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of her treatment by Breimon. Her disability claim was denied. She remains on a leave of absence.
In April 2013, Hespe filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which reviewed her complaint and gave her its approval to file a sexual harassment suit against the city and Breimon.
Around the same time, she filed a complaint against Breimon with the police department. The department wouldn’t release records regarding the internal investigation, saying, “This is an ongoing investigation.” But Guglielmi says Breimon was given a 30-day suspension, which he is appealing.
Herbert filed a federal lawsuit on Hespe’s behalf against the city and Breimon in November 2013 that says the police department “directly encourages, and fails to adequately discipline, supervise and control its officers” and “facilitates the very type of misconduct at issue here by failing to adequately punish and discipline prior instances of similar misconduct.”
Hespe alleges there is a “code of silence” in the police department that keeps officers from reporting misconduct by their colleagues, according to the lawsuit filed by Herbert, who often defends cops accused of misconduct.
A federal judge has dismissed much of Hespe’s lawsuit, writing, “It is undisputed that, during the course of the relationship, [Hespe] and Sgt. Breimon went on dates to movies, restaurants and concerts and met each other’s children . . . Plaintiff told Sgt. Breimon she loved and missed him . . . and sometimes initiated sex . . . and described to Sgt. Breimon what she wanted to do to him sexually.”
But the judge has set a trial date of Jan. 14 on Hespe’s sexual harassment claim against Breimon, who got divorced in 2015.
In the past month, after being asked about Breimon’s promotion in May to lieutenant, the police department stripped him of his police powers. He’s now back on desk duty.
“There is absolutely no place within the Chicago Police Department for harassment or discrimination of any kind,” says Guglielmi, the police spokesman.