Former Osgood police officer receives settlement
Wanda English Burnett - Editor

Holly Holt Hoff, a former police officer for the Town of Osgood, recently received a monetary settlement from a lawsuit she had filed against Osgood Town Marshal Rodney Stepleton and the Town of Osgood.

According to information in the "Release and Settlement Agreement" the lawsuit was filed following an incident which allegedly occurred at Hoff's Fairground Avenue home in Osgood in Jaunary of 2003.

In documents signed by Hoff, it reads that Hoff claims that Stepleton "engaged in an unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal breaking into Holt's (Hoff's) home, which allegations Stepleton denies...Holt (Hoff) claims to have sustained loss of physical liberty, emotional pain and suffering, emotional trauma and suffering, humiliation and other damages as a result of the actions and/or omissions of Stepleton and/or Town of Osgood."

Hoff, who was Holt at the time of the incident, and has since married, said on her personal time she was involved in an incident that began at Broomsage in North Vernon that involved arguing with another woman. Hoff said she came home, but the other woman followed her onto her property and the argument escalated.

According to Hoff, she was arrested and formal charges of battery and disorderly conduct were filed against her following that incident.

While Hoff admits she's not proud of that incident, she also stands firm that she could have filed battery charges on the other person involved, but chose not to. Hoff says that's the night Stepleton "broke into" her home illegally. She also made further allegations about Stepleton concerning "alleged harassment." In the documents Stepleton denies these accusations.

"I had already contacted EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunities Commission) in Indianapolis, about some things that had been going on with him (Stepleton), before this incident," Hoff noted.

Hoff said she felt she had been violated by Stepleton's actions and filed the lawsuit. She was employed with the Town of Osgood from May 22, 2000, through March of 2003, when she said she resigned under duress. She graduated from the law enforcement academy in Plainfield in December of 2000.

"I always dreamed of being a police officer," Hoff admitted, saying her career in law enforcement isn't necessarily over, just on hold. In the meantime, the 28-year-old mother is
taking training to become a registered nurse and is optimistic about the future. "I've learned a lot about people through this deal, both good and bad," she concluded.

Paul Struckman, member of the town board of Osgood, noted that the town's insurance company and lawyers basically took care of the situation, without the board having anything to do with it.

Marshal Stepleton commented
on the situation by saying, "I just wished it would have gone to court...then the whole truth would come out."

For an undisclosed amount of money EMCC (Employees Mutual Casualty Company) the insurance company for the Town of Osgood, settled with Hoff. In documents signed by Hoff on March 2, 2004, it reads in part, "...the payment of said amount is not to be construed as an
admission of liability, but said payment is made and accepted in full accord and satisfaction of disputed claims, and for the purpose of terminating the dispute and litigation between the parties."

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division by Hoff's attorneys Hume, Smith, Geddes, Green & Simmons LLP, Indianapolis.

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