A series of cases involving female police officers caught up in salacious sex scandals has raised questions if bad behavior is rampant in law enforcement agencies – and the “Defund” movement may be adding fuel to the fire, one expert said.
Wild accusations have hit several police departments and jails in what appears to be a growing trend, with several female officers filing lawsuits against higher-ups claiming sexual harassment and assault.
The apparent increase in cases is “100%” related to the “Defund the Police” movement that gained traction in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020, said attorney John Scola.
“I saw an uptick in clients right after George Floyd in all types of discrimination cases with the NYPD,” Scola said.
The year began with a viral news story about a female police officer in Tennessee who was fired from the force after it was discovered she was having affairs with multiple male colleagues, including while on-duty. Months after news broke of former officer Maegan Hall’s affairs, she announced a lawsuit arguing she was sexually “groomed” for the trysts.
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That was one of several cases which had some wondering if intradepartment sexual misconduct was more widespread that some would have thought.
Scola that before the “Defund the Police” movement, members of the force who were facing harassment likely did not come forward out of fear of going against the NYPD “family.” However, after Floyd’s death on Memorial Day 2020, when protests and riots swept the nation amid raging anti-cop sentiment, officers changed their thought process, Scola argued.
“With ‘Defund the Police’ and lack of support, I think a lot of people who were being harassed … it made it easier for them to come forward and really expose how they were being treated.”
Fox News Digital previously reported on a lawsuit in Michigan of a former female officer, Teresa Williams, who sued her department this year over claims she was groped, coaxed into kissing a superior officer over shots of alcohol and “held to a completely different standard” on the job than her coworkers.
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“I want my story to be told because I want people to know — other women to know — that they’re not alone,” Williams told the Detroit Free Press. “And I want other women to know that it’s OK to be embarrassed about stuff like this. . . . You shouldn’t have to hide from it. People need to be held accountable for this type of bulls—.”
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Williams told local media that she “felt helpless” to do anything about the alleged harassment she faced, including feeling that she was pressured into performing oral sex on her partner.
“If I didn’t go along with what was going on, they were going to ruin me and make my life a living hell,” she said.
A female LAPD officer filed a suit against the City of Los Angeles this year, alleging she was subjected to online harassment because she reported colleagues for memes she found sexist. In Alabama, a sheriff’s office last month settled a lawsuit that alleged inmates at a jail were allowed to sexually harass female guards with impunity. In Pennsylvania, a female officer who filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit in 2020 against her department saw her suit reach a U.S. District Court this year.
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Though women are often the ones filing suits against police departments over allegations of sexual harassment, a male NYPD officer is currently in the middle of a legal battle claiming his female superior “violently” shoved her panties into his mouth.
Other instances of sexual improprieties occurring on police forces have also played out this year, though they have not led to lawsuits. In Texas last month, for example, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a trove of racy text messages between a married female 911 dispatcher and seven different law enforcement officers.
Scola said that as “more women muster the courage to come forward, it leads to other women seeing that and doing the same.” He added that he does not believe harassment on the force is more or less common now, “it’s just more common that you’re hearing about it now.”
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Scola is currently representing a civilian employee for the NYPD’s Property Division, Ammy Ventura, who filed a suit against her superior, a New York City police lieutenant. The lawsuit alleges that what started as a romantic fling spiraled into Ventura getting sexually harassed, assaulted and her life threatened repeatedly.
“I need you to f—ing delete everything from your phone pictures and text and we no longer talking on regular phone now I will contact you on WhatsApp only, and if you don’t delete it I will f—ing kill you and push you in front of a train,” the police lieutenant allegedly told Ventura as other members of the department discovered the pair’s previous relationship.
Scola pointed to another case, which settled for $800,000 last year, when NYPD Capt. Sharon Carolyn Balli sounded the alarm on a fellow captain who repeatedly questioned her about her sex life and allegedly repeatedly tried to catch her in various states of undress. When the female NYPD captain flagged the alleged harassment to a commander on the force, her discrimination complaint was buried, Balli said as the suit worked its way through the legal system.
“The initial people that broke through, really led the charge for these other people to come forward,” Scola said. “And at the end of the day, no one should be harassed in the workplace.”
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