Ex-YPD chief sues YSU, alleging discrimination


By Justin Wier

jwier@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A former Youngstown police chief has filed a federal lawsuit accusing Youngstown State University of engaging in race discrimination.

Jimmy Hughes, whose attorney filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court, claims the university refused to consider his application to become the university’s police chief.

The university named Shawn Varso its chief of police, effective May 1 of last year.

It hosted interviews and public forums with three candidates last April after what it called an extensive search process.

The lawsuit claims the university did not advertise its intention to hire a new police chief and did not post the vacancy in a lawful manner, but cites no evidence to support the allegation.

It claims Varso, who is white, does not have the experience, training and qualifications of Hughes, and that Hughes was treated differently on the basis of race.

Varso is in his 28th year with the YSU Police Department. He served as interim chief from the time former Chief John Beshara was placed on administrative leave in April 2016 until the university appointed him to replace Beshara a year later.

Hughes also filed a charge of discrimination with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

The lawsuit asks for no less than $75,000 in compensatory damages along with punitive damages.

Neither Hughes nor a university spokesman responded to calls Friday from The Vindicator.

Mayor Jay Williams appointed Hughes as police chief in 2006. Hughes retired in 2011 after 34 years with the department.

Hughes ran for Mahoning County sheriff in 2012 and briefly campaigned for mayor in 2013 before dropping out of the race in July of that year.

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