Widow Alleges NYPD Officer Comitted Suicide Because of Sexual Harassment

Did the unwelcome and insistent advances of Sgt. Christine Hertzel contribute to Officer Schindler’s suicide?

The widow of NYPD Officer Mathew Schindler, who committed suicide on February 13, 2012, has filed a lawsuit in the Queens Supreme Court alleging the suicide was precipitated by the unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances he faced from his superior officer, Sgt. Christine Hertzel at the 115th Precinct. DNAInfo.com reports,

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.

Hirtzel was Officer Schindler’s direct supervisor, and was in the position to control his assignments, make his schedule, and “affect the day-to-day condition of decedent’s employment,” according to the lawsuit. It also goes on to say that Schindler had informed Hertzel that “her unrelenting advances had left him depressed …[and] had caused him to contemplate suicide,” but Hirtzel was not willing to stop.

The lawsuit goes on to say that Officer Schindler understood that he would suffer “tangible detriment” in his career if he refused to submit to the sexual advances of Sgt. Hirtzel. According to DNAInfo.com, the lawsuit also claims Schindler had confronted Hertzel on the day of his suicide, telling her the sexual advances were “unwanted, repugnant and causing him psychic injury and suffering,” and he told her if they didn’t stop he was going to kill himself. The Associated Press reports,

Hirtzel refused to break of the affair but let him leave the stationhouse with his service weapon, according to the court papers. The sergeant reported the suicide threat to a captain and confessed to an affair with the officer, the papers say.

The captain then allegedly attempted “to rectify the hostile work environment and persuade him against suicide” by calling the officer.

The lawsuit does not specify what his widow, Gina, is demanding, but it does state that she believes Hertzel’s unwanted sexual advances violated her husband’s civil rights.

Although the sexual harassment may have been what finally pushed Officer Schindler to take his own life, it is important to remember that there is almost never one thing and one thing alone that drives a person to commit suicide. Many different factors play a role in such cases, and while it’s probable that the pressure and guilt of the unwanted advances and the forced sexual relationship with his supervising officer played a large part in his decision, the blame cannot be laid solely in her lap.

However, with that being said, it is vitally important that people understand that sexual harassment in the work place is not exclusively a man-on-woman crime. Women are just as capable of using their authority to control and manipulate and destroy people’s lives as men are. Unfortunately, there are fewer avenues for men to follow to make it stop, and in our culture today a man may chose not to say anything, for fear of being ridiculed or emasculated by his peers.

Do you think if this had been a case of a man harassing a woman to the point of suicide it would have received more media attention?

Photo: AP/File

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Comments

  1. Bay Area Guy says:

    Do you think if this had been a case of a man harassing a woman to the point of suicide it would have received more media attention?

    Yes, yes, and a thousand times yes!

    • ‘Do you think if this had been a case of a man harassing a woman to the point of suicide it would have received more media attention?’

      YES

  2. WAY more attention. He’d be demonized to hell and back. And despite “more than one reason for suicide,” he’d be targeted as the sole reason.

    By the same right, it’s a pathetic situation in society that male rapes are mocked and not taken seriously, along with amounts of questioning to his “masculinity.”

  3. John Schtoll says:

    I personally believe we here at the GMP should be asking this question

    If this were a man harassing a woman would we have seen this info posited in the article.

    “Although the sexual harassment may have been what finally pushed Officer Schindler to take his own life, it is important to remember that there is almost never one thing and one thing alone that drives a person to commit suicide. Many different factors play a role in such cases, and while it’s probable that the pressure and guilt of the unwanted advances and the forced sexual relationship with his supervising officer played a large part in his decision, the blame cannot be laid solely in her lap.”

  4. Really! Do I think if the genders of those involved had been reversed that it would have recieved ANY media coverage (after all, the actual suicide wasn’t even in the papers, only an article about the lawsuit!) Uh…YEAH! If Women are allowed, in the name of equality, to rise to positions of authority over men, shouldn’t they be held to the same standards of professional conduct and accountability? After all, it seems she was allowed to continue at her post as if nothing happened. Sexual harrassment laws ,along with sexual assualt laws, may be written in gender neutral language, but they’re certanially not applied that way! Oh, by the way, you neglected to mention that officer Schindler left three small children behind. Yeah, sleep well Sergant Hirtzel!


  5. Do you think if this had been a case of a man harassing a woman to the point of suicide it would have received more media attention?

    Most certainly.

    And not only that but I’m sure the “there is no such thing as female against male sexism” crowd will be mysteriously silent on this one. Supposedly women don’t have the institutional power to do such things to men. (Or at best they will try to strip the gender implications out of this event and trying to turn it into a supervisor/employee situation.)


    Although the sexual harassment may have been what finally pushed Officer Schindler to take his own life, it is important to remember that there is almost never one thing and one thing alone that drives a person to commit suicide.

    A reminder that is usually missing when talking about the dangerous behaviors that women/girls may engage in after being harassed/assaulted by men….

  6. Back in the late 90s, my husband was sexually harrassed in the workplace by a woman who wasn’t in a supervisory position. At first, we didn’t know what to do, as it was hard to determine if she was just being overly friendly, or what (she started bringing him drinks, and she made a comment to a new employee about his butt). We decided that other employees were bound to notice, and it would make him look bad, so he was going to talk to the manager about it. Sure enough, the issue had already been brought to the attention of the manager by his coworkers. Luckily, everyone knew my husband was not appreciative of the attention, so he was not implicated in any way, and they fired the woman. I was really impressed with that company for being progressive enough to know that men can be sexually harrassed, too.

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