Ex-chief resigns as Buckland auxiliary officer in wake of sexual assault charge

  • James T. Hicks, 55, who became an auxiliary officer following his recent retirement as police chief, resigned from the Buckland Police Department last week amid a sexual assault charge as well as other allegations. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/25/2021 4:53:09 PM

BUCKLAND — The man who became an auxiliary officer following his recent retirement as police chief resigned from the Buckland Police Department last week amid a sexual assault charge as well as other allegations.

James T. Hicks, 55, sent Acting Chief Kurt Gilmore a resignation email on Oct. 18.

“With the pending issue I have been dealing with I feel it is best that I step aside,” Hicks wrote. “Thank you.”

Auxiliary officers handle traffic and parade detail but do not carry a service firearm and cannot make arrests. 

On Aug. 26, 2019, Hicks pleaded not guilty to one count of indecent assault and battery on a person 14 or over and was released on personal recognizance. However, two more women have since come forward to claim Hicks violated them. The first case had been transferred from Greenfield District Court to Northampton District Court.

Hicks retired as chief on Sept. 9, following 30 years in the position, according to Town Administrator Heather Butler. Hicks is represented by attorney John Vigliotti, of Reardon, Joyce & Akerson in Worcester.

Attempts to contact Hicks and Vigliotti were unsuccessful. Gilmore had no comment for the newspaper.

Laurie Loisel, communication and outreach director with the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, previously told the Greenfield Recorder her office asked the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office to handle this case to avoid any conflict of interest, as Hicks has worked three decades in law enforcement in Franklin County.

According to a statement of probable cause filed on Aug. 16, 2018 by State Police Sgt. Thomas F. Bakey, a 37-year-old woman reported Hicks had touched her inappropriately when she visited the Buckland Police Department to report an unrelated sexual harassment incident. She reports she had been having an ongoing issue with a neighborhood youth, who that day “made harassing comments to her, including calling out ‘nice a**.’” Bakey details in the statement that the unnamed alleged victim said Hicks wrote information onto a piece of paper and the two began to leave the station, but while walking down a short, narrow hallway, the chief allegedly put his hand between her legs from behind and touched her genitals over her pants before telling her, “You do have a nice a**.”

The alleged victim said she “kind of giggled it off” and told Hicks he should not do that because he was the police chief. Hicks allegedly just laughed and smiled, Bakey’s statement reads.

Hicks reportedly told Bakey and Trooper Geraldine Bresnahan he had brought the woman inside the station for about two minutes and wrote a note on a piece of paper. The chief said he and the woman talked outside for some time, and the alleged victim and two passersby later confirmed this conversation. Hicks denied making physical contact with the woman and said he did not believe they were ever within reach of each other.

The Greenfield Recorder interviewed two other women who made similar claims and who said charges are pending.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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