Former EMT, ambulance service sued

GLOVERSVILLE – A former city firefighter and emergency medical technician is due to be released from jail next week after serving a 30-day sentence for sexually touching female patients, but his legal challenges will continue.

Donald Frye of Broadalbin is facing three lawsuits filed this year that also name his former employer, the Ambulance Service of Fulton County. Three women who live in Fulton County are accusing Frye of sexually assaulting them while they were receiving medical care in an ambulance. They also are alleging negligence by the city-based ambulance company that employed him.

Frye, 45, was arrested in January on two counts of forcible touching for an incident in January and an incident in March 2011. The victims said in the lawsuits Frye put his hands in inappropriate places and penetrated them with a finger.

Under an agreement with the Fulton County district attorney’s office, he pleaded guilty to one count of forcible touching and was sentenced to 30 days in the Fulton County Jail, and three years of probation. He is scheduled to be released Monday, according to public records.

The woman who accused Frye in the 2011 incident filed her lawsuit Feb. 21, alleging Frye touched her as part of a “body cavity search.” Lawsuits filed April 10 by the victim in the January lawsuit and the alleged victim in a 2012 incident are similar but say the alleged sexual contact by Frye was “termed to be an examination.”

The Leader-Herald is not naming the plaintiffs because it generally does not identify victims of sexual abuse without their consent.

Frye was not charged in the alleged 2012 incident. City Police spokesman Capt. John Sira is out of the office this week and Chief Donald VanDeusen did not return a phone call seeking comment. Assistant District Attorney James Riley said he could not comment on the case against Frye.

Gloversville attorney Robert Abdella represents each of the plaintiffs. He did not return a phone call or email message seeking comment. Frye’s attorney, Peter Moschetti of Latham, did not return a phone message seeking comment.

The lawsuits do not specify damages being sought by any of the plaintiffs. They say Frye’s alleged actions left them with permanent mental and emotional injuries, distress and anxiety, and they fault the ambulance service for not “making reasonable inquiries” into Frye’s background and not firing him “immediately upon discovery of such mistreatment,” which they say exposed the plaintiffs and other patients to Frye’s “sexual predation.”

Ambulance service Manager Howard Hime said Thursday the company has not changed any policies since Frye’s arrest, but it’s more deliberate about ensuring a female employee is present for ambulance calls for female patients.

“We always used to, but then we got damn short on women,” he said. “Now, we’ve got a few more women so whenever we can, we go with a man and a woman. That helps.”

He said the ambulance service has about 50 employees but he didn’t know how many are women.

Frye earned $62,640 in 2012 as a full-time city firefighter, according to public records. He was placed on 30 days of unpaid leave in February before Civil Service law required the city to move him to paid leave. He resigned in June. He worked part-time for the ambulance service, which fired him after his arrest.