Former Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson testified under oath that Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered him to reassign the subordinate Chicago police officer he was having a sexual relationship with at the time of a drinking-and-driving scandal that ultimately ended Johnson’s policing career.
The testimony, given as part of a union arbitration hearing and filed Monday in federal court, is the latest twist in a sordid saga that started in October 2019 when Johnson was found asleep behind the wheel of his parked car after a night of drinking with Officer Cynthia Donald. It also supports an allegation by Donald that she was retaliated against by city leaders because of her relationship to Johnson, a relationship in which she says the superintendent pressured her for sex.
Donald is suing Johnson and the city. She says the former superintendent repeatedly raped her in his office at CPD headquarters and that the city helped cover up his actions. Johnson has denied those allegations.
Johnson’s testimony was filed as part of an effort to force Lightfoot to testify in a deposition in Donald’s lawsuit.
Johnson was abruptly fired from his position as the city’s top cop in December 2019, weeks before he was supposed to retire. At the time Lightfoot said it was because he had lied to her about details of the night he was found asleep behind the wheel of his car.
The night Johnson was found in his car he had been out drinking with Donald and consumed “several large servings of rum” according to the city’s inspector general. The next day, according to Johnson’s testimony in the arbitration hearing, Johnson met with Lightfoot and her chief of staff Maurice Classen where Lightfoot confronted Johnson about reports that he was in a sexual relationship with Donald, who was his subordinate and his driver. Johnson said the mayor demanded he immediately transfer the officer.
“She actually said, ‘I want you to send her back to the First District and I want that f******* s*** done today,’” Johnson said according to a transcript of his testimony. “‘There will be no debate about it, no conversation. I want it done and I want it done by the end of today.’”
Johnson said he responded, “You’re the mayor. You want her moved, I’ll take care of that by the end” of the day.
Former CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielmi and former Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio both testified in the arbitration hearing as well and said that Johnson told them immediately after his meeting with Lightfoot that the mayor had ordered him to reassign Donald out of the superintendent’s office.
In her lawsuit, Donald claims the transfer from the superintendent’s office to the records division “exacerbated” the hostile work environment created by Johnson, who conditioned “her employment and advancements within CPD upon her submission to unwanted and unwelcomed sexual activity.”
Her attorney said Donald considered the reassignment a demotion and punishment.
Johnson’s attorney said the former superintendent “looks forward to a court case where he can … regain his reputation.”
WBEZ first reported on the transfer of the officer who was out drinking with Johnson. An employment attorney at the time said the decision to move the officer raised “significant red flags” and could be viewed as retaliation against the officer for being the victim of sexual harassment.
A spokeswoman for the city’s law department declined to comment on the new allegations in Johnson’s testimony.