ST. JOHN — The town's insurance carrier* has paid $202,000 to two women to settle sexual harassment lawsuits, while a third woman's lawsuit remains pending in federal court, records show.

The two settled cases led to former Cmdr. Michael Fryzel's retirement from the St. John Police Department in March 2015, days before the sexual harassment allegations the lawsuits detailed became public. 

An attorney for St. John released the settlement agreements last week in response to The Times' public records requests, showing the town agreed to pay one woman $150,000 and a second woman $52,000.

Attorneys for the town and Fryzel could not be reached for comment Friday about the newly released settlement agreements.

The lawsuits alleged Fryzel pressed his groin against one of the women, slapped a woman's buttocks, poked her breasts and made vulgar, sexual comments about her on several occasions between 2013 and 2015. The lawsuits also alleged former Police Chief Fred Frego and Town Manager Steve Kil were aware of the abuse but failed to prevent it.

The town is seeking summary judgment in a third woman's lawsuit, which was filed in November 2015. That woman accused Fryzel of calling her a name that was a reference to a sexual position, asking if she had sex with a black man and slapping her buttocks on one occasion between 2010 and 2015.

Register for more free articles.
Stay logged in to skip the surveys.

Chief Judge Theresa Springmann has not yet issued a decision on the town's motion for summary judgment.

Fryzel, 56, also is facing several criminal charges linked to the women's allegations in Lake Criminal Court. Charges in that case include three felony counts of sexual battery, five felony counts of official misconduct, felony theft, misdemeanor theft and three misdemeanor counts of battery.

The theft charges are linked to allegations Fryzel collected $5,356.97 from 2011 to 2015 for hours he didn't work at the Police Department.

The criminal case has been continued a total of 22 times since the case was filed in May 2016, after an investigation by Indiana State Police, records show.

Fryzel's criminal defense attorney, Steven Mullins, said during a June 19 court hearing he was waiting for civil litigation against Fryzel to play out. If a resolution in the criminal case is not reached at that time, attorneys will ask that the criminal case be set for trial, he said.

* Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct information about who paid the legal settlement money. The town of St. John's insurance carrier paid a $150,000 settlement to one woman and a $52,000 settlement to another woman.

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Sarah covers crime, federal courts and breaking news for The Times. She joined the paper in 2004 after graduating from Purdue University Calumet.