August 28, 2014

Elyria
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Fired worker sues city over alleged rape

ELYRIA — A fired North Ridgeville city employee who has accused a co-worker of raping her is suing the city, saying it was negligent when it hired the man who allegedly attacked her.
The suit doesn’t address the victim’s wrongful termination claim, but her attorney, John Hildebrand Sr., said that could be tackled in a second suit or added to the lawsuit filed Monday in county Common Pleas Court.
Charles Ralston, the 35-year-old Sheffield Lake resident charged with rape in the June incident, also is named in the suit.
Hildebrand said the city was well aware of Ralston’s criminal record when it hired him shortly after he was recommended by Mayor Dave Gillock in 2003. Ralston is the father of two of Gillock’s grandchildren.
“The fact is they were negligent when they hired him because they were aware of his criminal past,” Hildebrand said.
Ralston previously had been convicted of domestic violence and possession of marijuana.
After the alleged incident, Ralston was fired by the city for admitting to drinking on the job.
He said he had been drinking with the victim in the hours before the alleged attack at the French Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Sheffield, and he has said that he and the woman had consensual sex.
The victim was fired in September after allegedly making death threats against co-workers after being sent home Aug. 31 for not wearing a city uniform to work.
The woman has said she was drinking after she got home and told her brother “if I had a gun, I’d like to kill them.” The brother called the Nord Center and the threats eventually filtered back to city officials.
Hildebrand said his client continues to suffer from mental anguish caused by the attack.
Gillock, who is being investigated by the Ohio Ethics Commission for his role in procuring the job for Ralston, declined to comment. North Ridgeville Law Director Andrew Crites said the city did nothing wrong when it hired Ralston.
“If the incident did occur it would have been impossible for the city to predict,” he said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.