Officers probed in sexual allegations Complaints involve informants ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

April 29, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County police officials, stung by a recent series of sexual harassment cases, now are investigating charges that undercover officers are having sex with female informants.

Sgt. Mark Howes, the chief's assistant, said yesterday that officers from the Internal Affairs Division began their probe "just days ago" after the department received complaints that undercover officers were having sex with their informants both on and off duty.

He said that the probe was "very preliminary" and that many of the "officers who have been accused haven't even been questioned yet."

Sergeant Howes would not say how many officers are involved, who filed the complaint or when and where the alleged liaisons took place. He did say, however, that the allegations involved more than one female informant and that all the women are 18 or older.

"The police department does not consider this criminal activity, only an ethics violation," Sergeant Howes said. "If [the allegations] are true, then it would be an inappropriate violation of departmental rules."

The rules forbid fraternization with informants.

Sergeant Howes said that the penalties the officers may face would depend on the severity of charges brought against them after the probe is completed.

Anne Arundel's police department has been plagued by sexual misconduct charges for more than a year.

Since February 1992, nine women have filed sexual harassment charges against five officers in the county.

Two months ago, a woman who claimed a former county police officer raped her during a traffic stop, filed a $70 million suit alleging police were so tolerant of sexual harassment that it endangered women throughout the county. In January, a county police sergeant who allegedly used a picture of a nude woman to harass a female co-worker was charged administratively with conduct unbecoming an officer and violating the department's policy against sexual harassment.

Sgt. Lafayette Harvey, a patrol supervisor at the Northern District station, was suspended without pay earlier this month after he admitted harassing a female officer and a civilian employee.

Last year, two captains were disciplined for similar complaints.

Capt. Richard Smith, a 22-year veteran, was fined $5,000 after he pleaded guilty to departmental charges of sexual harassment and other violations. And Capt. Don F. Ward, former commander of the Northern District, was forced to retire in the wake of complaints against him, including an allegation of rape.

The 25-year department veteran retired before he could formally be charged in the allegations against him by four women. He was never charged criminally.

Another county police officer, Sgt. George Halpin, of the Southern District, accepted summary punishment of one day's suspension for describing a female officer as "good in bed" in front of his squad in April.

Another sergeant is under investigation for allegedly harassing the same female officer he was convicted of harassing eight years ago, after she shunned his romantic overtures. In that case, he was suspended after being found guilty of improper performance of duty.

After a series of complaints from women in the department last year, Chief Robert Russell ordered all employees to participate in a three-hour session on sexual harassment at the police academy in Davidsonville.

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