LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A former Kansas sheriff’s deputy alleges in a lawsuit that she was forced out of her job after reporting that a fellow deputy had sexually assaulted her.
The suit, filed Monday in federal court, says the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office fostered a culture of sexual harassment throughout the plaintiff’s employment. The Kansas City Star reports it also says that after a two-month suspension, her abuser returned to work with no further disciplinary measures.
The sheriff’s office declined to comment on the suit because the office has not been officially served with the documents. The Star generally doesn’t name victims of sexual assault without their permission. Lauren Allen, the woman’s attorney, said it took her client “a lot of strength and courage for her to come forward but she looks forward to her day in court.”
According to the suit, the plaintiff and her alleged abuser became friends while working together. She alleges that he went to her house in January 2018 to discuss the nature of their relationship and she insisted that they were nothing more than friends. The suit says he then cornered her, forced her to kiss him and performed oral sex on her. The suit says the woman felt that her only option while being cornered was “to reciprocate.”
The next day, the suit says, the male deputy cornered the woman at work and attempted to kiss her again. After reporting what happened in March, a meeting that was held that led to a criminal investigation. The male deputy was placed on a different shift after returning from work after a two-month suspension. But the suit said the woman still saw him often, causing her anxiety and panic attacks.
She was told in May that prosecutors had declined to press charges and that he could not be fired due to “employment laws.”
The suit said that the sheriff agreed to transfer the woman, but the transfer was rescinded two weeks later and replaced with an offer of a civilian position with a pay cut. According to the suit, the woman rejected the offer and in July was “constructively discharged,” a term that refers to an employee resigning as a result of a hostile work environment.
Mollie Hill, general counsel for The Leavenworth County Sherriff’s office, said the deputy accused in the assault is still employed as a detention officer.