WATERVLIET, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Watervliet firefighter who is on trial for allegedly groping an Uber driver in January 2019 remains on the payroll despite being on leave since the allegations came to light. The trial for Edward Rolfe is now back on after being delayed, first by a protest and then by the pandemic.
NEWS10’s Anya Tucker met Rolfe outside the Watervliet City Courthouse during a break in the proceedings. He didn’t want to talk, but inside the Watervliet City Court today, the jury heard opening statements in the trial of the longtime firefighter and EMT. The allegations date back to 2019 when the driver accused Rolfe of groping her breasts and private area while he was a customer riding in her vehicle. But his defense attorney, Francisco Calderon claims the Uber driver’s version of the events lacks consistency and credibility. “She told the police a story of what happened and said that he harassed her. Three months later she came back and said, ‘No. He touched me in a sexual manner.’ The evidence is not going to show that,” said Calderon.
Rolfe, who at the time of the alleged incident, was a Lieutenant with the Watervliet Fire Department was suspended for 30 days without pay. After the 30 days, the suspension was continued and apparently so was his salary. A source with firsthand knowledge of the situation tells NEWS10 that even though Rolfe is not allowed to work for the fire house, he remains on the department’s payroll, continuing to receive his salary of $75,900 a year.
No one with the fire department wanted to comment on Rolfe’s salary or employment status. It’s possible the reason why no action has been taken with regard to his employment could be due to delays with the trial. In early March 2020 during the initial trial, the judge dismissed the jury pool after he said jurors could have been tainted by a rally in support of sexual abuse survivors outside the courthouse. The trial was further delayed by the pandemic.
The charges are misdemeanor forcible touching and sex abuse as well as harassment, a violation.
If convicted of all three charges, Rolfe faces up to one year in jail. The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday.