Politics & Elections

North Providence Mayor Lombardi confirms that Holly O’Donnell filed a harassment complaint against Chief Tikoian

“Did I like what was told to me? I didn’t like it at all,” said North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi. “I thought I addressed it in the best possible way. In the course of my conversation [with Holly and Colonel O’Donnell] I said, ‘Maybe you should consider a restraining order.'”

Rhode Island News: North Providence Mayor Lombardi confirms that Holly O’Donnell filed a harassment complaint against Chief Tikoian

August 12, 2022, 1:57 pm

By Steve Ahlquist

North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi confirmed that Holly O’Donnell, the partner of former State Police Colonel Steven O’Donnell, filed a complaint against former North Providence Police Chief David Tikoian about one year before Tikoian left his position in 2020.

On Tuesday evening Steven O’Donnell testified before the Smithfield Town Council that David Tikoian, a member of that council and a declared candidate for the State Senate District 22 race, had engaged in a pattern of harassment against him and his wife Holly O’Donnell.

2022 08 09 Town Council Meeting 01 Col. O'Donnell

Holly O’Donnell also testified before the town council and alleged harassment. In her statement Holly O’Donnell said that Chief Tokoian would see her car, enter a place of business she was patronizing, and stare at her in a threatening manner. She alleges he did this more than once, at least one time with his second-in-command in tow.

2022 08 09 Town Council Meeting 02

Reached by phone of Friday, Mayor Charles Lombardi confirmed that Holly and Steven O’Donnell had contacted him and filed a complaint against then Chief Tikoian.

Mayor Lombardi: No one came to me in person, I got a call from Holly O’Donnell. There was an accusation or a complaint that was made to me. I called the chief in, expressed my feelings and basically told him that if this is going on you better let it go.

And that was it. To be honest with you I don’t micromanage any of our chiefs or departments day-to-day. I kind of thought it was over but I guess it wasn’t over.

I heard the buzz out there but that’s an issue with the former chief, former colonel and the Mrs. Did the accusation bother me as the public safety director? Yes. And that’s the reason that I called the chief in.

I didn’t want to get into the specifics. My job as Tikoian’s superior is to just make sure that the town, at any point in time, didn’t get involved.

Uprise RI: The accusation is that then-Chief Tikoian harassed Holly O’Donnell while in uniform, which involves the town of North Providence directly…

Mayor Lombardi: I didn’t see [the alleged harassment] so I can’t confirm it or deny it, but I did what I thought I should do. Call the chief in, expressed my concerns and told him to stop.

Uprise RI: Was this incident a factor in Tikoian ultimately leaving his position as Chief?

Mayor Lombardi: No. I didn’t ask the chief to leave. That accusation or complaint had to be a year prior to him leaving. I’m just trying to be fair, call it as I see it and be correct in my statement.

Did I like what was told to me? I didn’t like it at all. I thought I addressed it in the best possible way. In the course of my conversation [with Holly and Colonel O’Donnell] I said, “Maybe you should consider a restraining order.”

In her testimony before the Smithfield Town Council Holly O’Donnell said that she wishes she had taken the mayor’s advice and gotten a restraining order.

There are two other declared candidates in the race for District 22 State Senate. Mel Dupont released the following statement on Twitter:

First I want to express my support for Holly and Steven O’Donnell. I appreciate their bravery in coming forward. No one should have to endure stalking, harassment, and intimidation, especially not from men in uniform. Speaking out against a bully is difficult, but talking openly about your experiences is what removes power from the bully and returns power to you. I hope more of Tikoian’s targets come forward to share their stories, so we can see him for who he is.

Second, we have the right to demand adherence to the law from our elected officials. If David Tikoian’s Declaration of Candidacy was altered to hide the fact that he filed after the filing deadline, then he lacks the integrity to run for State Senate. The last thing we need is another abusive, authoritarian scofflaw getting promoted to higher office where he would gain the power to harm more people. I hope the Primary voters speak as one to prevent Tikoian’s ascension on September 13th.

Republican candidate Paul Santucci sent the following statement:

I attended the Smithfield Town Council meeting on Tuesday, August 9th , ironically to speak during public comment on an important but unrelated matter – one that I believe was pursuing justice for the common good. As I sat in the audience, I have to say that I was shocked to hear the genuine testimony of a woman who was shaken to her core. I would not want my wife or anyone else to endure that type of intimidation. Other people who attended that meeting were equally as surprised and empathetic to Mrs. O’Donnell’s sincerity and her pursuit of justice for the common good. For the record, I have never met Holly O’Donnell and I have never spoken to her.

Regarding the deficiencies with the declaration form that Colonel O’Donnell spoke of – it’s clear that the town needs to address this blatant shortcoming by using a date/timestamp machine that cannot be altered. It defies logic how in this day and age, we have such an antiquated system in the clerk’s department. This is not a mere oversight. I’m curious if the Town Manager can explain why best practices aren’t followed in a town that prides itself as being a sentinel.

If my candidacy papers had a blatant issue such as that which is clearly present on the form in question, I would have had the common sense to strike out the altered date and time stamp, have it re-stamped, then I would have signed that change along with the Clerk who received the document. This is an election document – and to leave anything unclear as to its authenticity or accuracy is a reflection of the level of detail placed on election matters by the Town Hall, and certainly of the person submitting the form with altered information on it. This seems pretty reasonable, doesn’t it?

Every single person who’s seen the form in question has remarked how unclear the time is, and how sloppy the form was processed. I would think that with all the concerns citizens have expressed about election integrity, our town would at least take the simple steps to ensure our elections in Smithfield remain above reproach.

The integrity of the document in question should be investigated by the Rhode Island Board of Elections, and Smithfield needs to take a more serious approach to processing such vital election documents.

David Tikoian sent Uprise RI the following statement:

“I’ve issued a statement. Beyond that I don’t have much else to express about the matter other than, it’s my sincere hope that Mr. and Mrs. O’Donnell find peace with the issues they appear to have internalized.

“I have found peace with what he has put my family and I through this past decade.

My focus is to continue serving our community and state with humility, professionalism and unselfish devotion.“