AKRON, Ohio — A former police officer at the New Franklin Police Department, who resigned in 2017 due to the constant sexual harassment she allegedly received on a daily basis from her fellow officers and supervisors, has filed a lawsuit against the city in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas.
According to the lawsuit, the officer worked part-time with the department from August 2015 until she resigned on Sept. 7, 2017. She resigned in "fear of her career being ruined and further retaliation if she mentioned the harassment again," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges that the officer was "continually sexually harassed," and her supervisors "knew or should have known of and failed to take immediate and appropriate action," regarding the matter.
According to the lawsuit, when the officer reported she was being sexually harassed to one of her supervisors, the supervisor allegedly grabbed her crotch and butt. "She told and begged him to stop, but he refused," the lawsuit states.
On another occasion, a lieutenant said that her "ass looked nice in those yoga pants," a comment that was allegedly about the officer in front of the chief of police.
During the officer's employment, the lawsuit states that another officer in charge continuously referred her to as a "slut, bitch, lesbian, and dyke" in front of the police chief. She was also told by the officer that she "smelled like a stripper" and would need to "have sexual intercourse with men they arrested."
On other occasions, she was allegedly called "stupid," "ugly," and "disgusting." She was also referred to as a "fat ass," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges that the officer witnessed similar harassment directed towards another female in the department.
Other instances of harassment include an incident where a lieutenant allegedly showed her nude photos of a woman on a phone belonging to a man who was arrested. The lawsuit states this incident allegedly occurred in front of other supervisors and the former mayor.
Additionally, the lawsuit says that when the officer asked for the harassment to stop, she was retaliated against and given back-to-back shifts and "forced to take numerous police calls that came into the department, as opposed to calls just within her assigned district, as was policy and by being forced to go on dangerous calls by herself when she was trained to go with another officer/have backup."
When she became pregnant, a supervisor allegedly said, "Maybe you should have kept your legs closed." And while on maternity leave, she was told that officers falsely claimed they found sex toys in her locker, the lawsuit states.
Later, while the officer was on leave with pregnancy complications, an officer told her that her supervisor planned on firing her because she was pregnant. She was also told by a coworker that if she came back to work, she wouldn't get 32 hours worth of shifts a week back since she had already been replaced.
The suit states that another officer allegedly told her on city property that the city intended to fire her and "even though you're pregnant, you still look and smell like a stripper."
The lawsuit seeks compensation of $25,000 or more for back pay, economic damages, restitution, loss of enjoyment of life and self-esteem and reputation damages. It also seeks compensation for back pay and lost benefits. The lawsuit seeks to be proven at trial.
According to New Franklin's current mayor, Paul Adamson, who took over after the mayor mentioned in the lawsuit retired, the city hired a former University of Akron law professor named J. Dean Carro to conduct an independent review of the allegations in the police department.
According to Adamson:
Professor Carro conducted a two-month investigation during which he interviewed fifteen witnesses, including the complainant. On March 26, 2018, he issued his report, concluding that "The city of New Franklin Police Department is, on most bases, a well-run and professional organization. As a whole, police officers act professionally in most circumstances and provide citizens with an admirable level of services performed respectfully. There are many examples of police officers within the department going above and beyond the call of duty to aid the city's citizens. Most police officers have served for many years and with high honor. But as noted above, there are areas of concern which, from this investigator's viewpoint, may be readily addressed and alleviated."
Profesor Carro made several recommendations to address the issues raised in his report, and these suggestions were implemented by the Department and the Administration. Since then we have had no similar complaints. We are conferring with counsel and intend to defend the allegations set forth in the complaint. We are unable to provide any further comment regarding this pending litigation at this time.
News 5 has reached out to the New Franklin Police Department for comment.
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