Police officer charges sexual harassment She filed suit against her boss BALTIMORE COUNTY

January 06, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County police officer is suing her sergeant, th county and the Police Department in a federal action charging that he harassed her by displaying sexual devices and explicit photographs and threatened her with his gun.

Officer Charlynn Loiacono, a 12-year veteran of the force, also alleged that her boss told her he didn't think women belonged on the police force, according to the civil suit filed in U.S. District Court.

Both she and Sgt. Joseph Roberts, the only named defendant, are on medical leave with pay from their jobs in the eastern traffic section, said E. Jay Miller, a Baltimore County police spokesman.

County Attorney H. Emslie Parks yesterday said he would not comment on the lawsuit, filed Monday afternoon, because he hadn't yet seen it.

In her lawsuit, Officer Loiacono is seeking actual compensation of $500,000, plus punitive damages of $500,000, on each of several allegations, including negligence, violations of her constitutional and civil rights, sex discrimination and sexual harassment.

She said the harassment forced her out of her job last month on indefinite medical leave.

She is seeking money damages for lost wages and benefits, rather than reinstatement. Her husband, Steven Loiacono, also a county police officer, with 18 years on the force, is listed as a co-plaintiff.

Attorneys for both the officer and the sergeant said they have advised their clients not to discuss the case.

In the lawsuit, the officer said she was held to stricter job performance standards than male officers. She said her sergeant displayed a calendar of nude women on his desk, complained that women did not belong on the force, and ridiculed her by displaying sexually explicit photographs and a sex toy, said Kathleen M. Cahill, Officer Loiacono's attorney.

When Officer Loiacono complained, the attorney said, the sergeant told other officers to isolate her and threatened her with bodily harm more than once.

The county and the department should have known of the risk the sergeant posed to female officers, according to the lawsuit, but instead retaliated against her when she attempted to take action through the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Mr. Miller, while refusing to comment on the specific allegations, said, "We were aware that some civil action was contemplated, and this department has a zero tolerance for sexual harassment. . . . An internal investigation was initiated, and certain violations were sustained in the area of sexual harassment, and disciplinary action is pending."

However, he said, he could not discuss any details of the disciplinary action.

"During the conduct of that investigation," he added, "certain performance problems were identified within the eastern traffic section by Internal Affairs investigators . . . that prompted [Police Chief Neil Behan] to reassign 10 or 12 traffic officers administratively."

Mr. Miller said these reassignments were related to job performance and were not disciplinary actions.

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