Suit claims police ignored harassment ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

February 05, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A woman who claims a former county police officer raped her during a traffic stop two years ago filed a $70 million suit yesterday, alleging police were so tolerant of sexual harassment that it endangered women throughout the county.

The 24-year-old Glen Burnie woman alleges that Officer Michael Ziegler stopped her in Pasadena Nov. 15, 1990, told her she was drunk and couldn't drive, took her to a dark parking lot in his squad car and raped her on the front seat.

She "was so shocked and so horrified by the conduct that she was unable to speak or resist," the lawsuit says.

According to the suit, the officer then drove her to the house in Crofton where she then lived.

She immediately reported the attack, the suit says.

"Upon investigation, it was disclosed that the plaintiff's handbag was found in the defendant's patrol car and that semen stains were present in the front of his patrol car," the suit says.

The suit, which seeks $60 million in compensatory and punitive damages, casts a net beyond Mr. Ziegler, who was convicted of misconduct in office by a Circuit Court judge and agreed to resign in 1991.

It alleges that department supervisors tolerated sexual harassment to such an extent that it developed into a pattern, so officers were allowed to get away with harassing women for at least a decade.

The suit names as co-defendants former Police Chief George W. Wellham III and "unknown and undetermined supervisory personnel."

It notes that another woman accused Mr. Ziegler of raping her when she sought police help at her apartment in 1984, and that yet another woman complained that he had failed to write a report when she reported a rape to him.

"In the wake of the defendant Officer Ziegler's case," the suit says, "four civilian women complained that a 24-year veteran and then present captain of the police training academy had either raped, assaulted, sexually harassed or exposed himself to them."

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