Alton officer alleges sexual harassment
Lawsuit claims police department retaliated for report about training incident
SANFORD J. SCHMIDT The Telegraph
EDWARDSVILLE — An Alton police officer has filed suit in circuit court against the police department, the city and former acting police chief Scott Waldrup, claiming Waldrup sexually harassed her and the department retaliated.
Detective Jennifer Tierney claims Waldrup made an “overt sexual gesture toward the plaintiff’s breasts” during a training exercise on Oct. 13, 2012.
The suit claims 26 officers, most of them male, were in teams of two, performing a drill with weapons, and one team member was supposed to tap her on the shoulder when a certain part of the drill was completed.
Waldrup allegedly made a “hand groping gesture in front of the plaintiff as if he were attempting to cup or squeeze both of the plaintiff’s breasts.”
After not receiving a response, Waldrup allegedly made another gesture and statement loud enough for the others to hear, the suit claims.
Tierney then made a report of sexual harassment to Lt. Carla Pruitt, who apparently reported the incident to then-police chief David Hayes. Waldrup was placed on administrative leave shortly after it was reported on Oct. 14, 2012.
The suit claims that when Waldrup returned from leave on Nov. 2, 2012, Tierney was informed by Pruitt that she was being reprimanded by the department for an incident which occurred in July 2012. The suit does not state the reason for Tierney’s reprimand.
The suit says that, as a captain, Waldrup was a supervisor over Tierney.
“Defendant Waldrup’s aforesaid conduct at the Oct. 13, 2012, training session constituted unwelcome sexual advances and unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature toward the plaintiff publicly in the presence of the plaintiff’s fellow police officers,” the suit alleges.
The suit claims she was “humiliated and demeaned in front of her fellow police officers, the majority of whom were male.”
She claims in the suit that the conduct altered the conditions of her employment, and she believed that if she did not submit to Waldrup’s alleged conduct, she would be retaliated against and/or lose her job.
The suit claims Waldrup had oversight over Tierney’s duties, including disciplinary actions.
“The plaintiff is informed and believes that defendant Waldrup either initiated or participated in the Nov. 2, 2012, reprimand of the plaintiff in retaliation for the plaintiff making a sexual harassment complaint against Waldrup,” the suit alleges.
The suit claims that Waldrup was also a next-door neighbor of Tierney and that, plus his position as one of her supervisors, “created an intimidating, hostile and offensive working environment.”
She claims she is now treated differently by her male co-workers.
“Specifically, other male co-workers have stated that plaintiff is ‘easily offended,’ and they have to be careful what they say around plaintiff or she will file a complaint.”
The suit also claims Waldrup intentionally caused Tierney emotional distress by calling attention to his actions during the training exercise.
The suit claims the defendants violated the Illinois Human Rights Act and the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. The seven-count suit, including one count for punitive damages, is asking for at least $50,000 in each count.
Tierney is represented by Christopher B. Hunter of Godfrey. A spokesman for the department declined to comment.
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