Ex-captain sued in alleged rape Retired police official accused

February 10, 1993|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

A former Anne Arundel County employee has filed an $85 million lawsuit against a former county police captain, charging that he raped her in the women's room of the police training academy seven years ago.

The woman, who lives in Baltimore, charges that former police Capt. Donald F. Ward sexually assaulted her moments after he promised to help her become a county police officer.

The lawsuit was filed in Anne Arundel Circuit Court on Dec. 30 and transferred Monday to U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

It is one of two lawsuits now pending against the county alleging rape by a former police officer.

Both suits charge that the Police Department tolerated sexual assaults and harassment against women.

Captain Ward retired in April before he could be formally charged with allegations filed against him by four women.

Asked yesterday to comment on the suit, Captain Ward declined, saying: "Believe me, I wish I could but I can't."

The suit against Captain Ward charges that the department "encouraged male police officers to believe that they could sexually harass and assault female employees and, for that fact, women in general, with little, if any, disciplinary action."

When the incident occurred in early 1986, Captain Ward was commanding officer of the training academy, the lawsuit says.

Other defendants named in the suit are Anne Arundel County, former Police Chief George W. Wellham III, Sgt. Bonnie Welsh and officers who may be named later as their identities become known.

John R. Greiber Jr., an attorney for the woman, said the acts leading to the suits occurred before the current county executive and police chief took office.

"These problems did not exist on their watch, but they're left with them," Mr. Greiber said.

David A. Plymer, the deputy county attorney, said he could not comment on either case because they were pending.

Mr. Plymer said the county's law department would act as attorney for the county, but that it had not decided whether it would represent the other defendants.

In the Ward case, the woman was a police communications operator at the time of the alleged incident. She had withdrawn her application to become a county police officer, the suit says.

The court papers say that during a break, Captain Ward advised her to resubmit her application.

At his suggestion, she met him in his office after work. He told her that he could help advance her career, court papers say.

During their conversation, she asked him for directions to the women's room. He directed her there, the suit says. After she entered the restroom, she turned around to find him standing in front of her. He then caused her to fall to the floor and raped her, the suit alleges.

Court papers say the woman considered reporting the incident to police, but did not.

"As a radio operator for the Police Department, she knew how police officers joked and how they would kid around when they were notified of a rape . . ." court papers say.

The woman did not tell her husband about the incident until after visiting a rape counseling center in 1990, the suit says. She continued to work at the department, where Captain Ward would "stand, stare and watch her in a manner that can only be described as unnerving, intimidating and stalking," the court papers say.

On Feb. 11, 1992, her husband reported the matter to the county Police Department's internal affairs unit.

The suit says Sergeant Welsh, while investigating the matter, threatened to have her fired if she failed to discuss the incident.

The woman refused to comment until she was certain that it would be kept confidential, court papers say.

Captain Ward was suspended from the force on Feb. 21, 1992, and retired two months later.

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