A woman has filed a police report accusing Steve LeClair, an Omaha firefighter and the president of the firefighters union, of assaulting her in November.
The woman alleges that LeClair approached her at a bar several times, used lewd language toward her and, before shoving her into the bar, whispered “white power” into her ear. The woman is black, according to the police report.
LeClair’s attorney said in an interview that his client is innocent. Mike Dowd of the Dowd & Corrigan law firm said LeClair has a record of service to the city and is ready to defend himself against the allegations. He also said LeClair “doesn’t have a discriminatory bone in his body.”
Omaha City Prosecutor Matt Kuhse said that he’s aware of the report and that police are still investigating the alleged incident.
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LeClair, 49, was placed on paid administrative leave from the city in December. He did not answer a request for comment on Wednesday.
He had, however, tweeted a picture Wednesday from the first day of the legislative session at the State Capitol in Lincoln.
The woman, 36, who filed the report also did not respond to a request for comment. The World-Herald is declining to name her because of the sexual nature of the allegations. The newspaper does not name people who allege they were victims of sexual assault, although it’s unclear whether any of LeClair’s alleged behavior could result in a sexual assault charge.
According to police reports:
The woman and a friend arrived at Tiger Tom’s Pub near 72nd Street and Military Avenue about 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9. They sat at the bar.
The woman reported that a man, whom she later identified as LeClair, approached the bar to buy drinks and looked at her and said, “You are (expletive) sexy.” The woman and her friend assumed he was drunk and ignored him.
About 20 minutes later, the same man approached the bar to order drinks and said to her, “You are the most sexy woman I have ever saw, and if I was not married, I would take you to the bathroom.” The woman said she and her friend again ignored him.
LeClair allegedly approached the bar a third time and made a sexual comment toward the woman that she could not remember. She told police that she told LeClair she was not interested and to leave her alone.
About 9 p.m., the woman said LeClair came up to the bar once more and whispered “white power” into her ear before punching her in the back. She said the force of the punch caused her to fall forward into the bar. Bar staff and other customers quickly removed the man.
The woman said she asked the staff whether they knew the man, but they said they had never seen him. She then left the bar.
The woman told police that she identified the man as LeClair from a news clip the next day.
The woman said she called the Omaha Firefighters Union Hall on Monday, Nov. 12, to inquire about how to file a formal complaint. It’s unclear from the reports which entity, the union or Fire Department, she wanted to file a complaint with. She said LeClair and an attorney representing him called her back, and she told them she had filed the complaint.
Dowd, LeClair’s attorney, said LeClair “self-reported” the incident to the city when he became aware that the woman had concerns about the night in question.
The woman said that an Omaha fire captain had advised her that she would need to make a formal police report to proceed with a complaint. But the woman said she hadn’t then reported the assault to police “due to her thinking nobody would believe her.”
Dowd said it “obviously raises questions” that although the incident allegedly occurred in November, the woman is only now filing a police report. Dowd said he hasn’t seen the report.
Dowd said that LeClair would “fully cooperate” with the investigation and that he hasn’t been contacted by police.
LeClair was hired by the city in 2002. He’s been the union’s president for a decade.
Mayor Jean Stothert said in an interview on Wednesday that LeClair was placed on paid administrative leave on Dec. 21 while the city conducts an internal investigation. LeClair will remain on leave during the criminal investigation, she said. She declined to comment further.
The fire union issued a statement late Wednesday saying it’s aware of the allegations against LeClair.
“Our organization takes these allegations very seriously, and out of respect for all parties involved, we will honor the investigative process,” the statement read. “Our focus will remain on the representation of Omaha’s firefighters and their mission to keep Omaha a safe city for everyone.”
Kuhse, the city prosecutor, said his office would handle the case if he decides to file misdemeanor assault charges; felonies are prosecuted by Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine.
“I really won’t see or hear anything about the specifics of the case until after they’ve (police) completed their investigation,” Kuhse said.
The World-Herald called Tiger Tom’s, and a man who returned a message and said he works at the bar said he was there when the alleged incident occurred. He declined to provide details and also declined to be named. He said the establishment is cooperating with the police.