State trooper's bias suit tells of smut library

January 08, 1994|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,Staff Writer

A decorated trooper claims in a sex discrimination suit that Maryland State Police openly shared an internal lending library of pornographic movies, even copying and diverting for personal use some films that had been seized in criminal investigations.

The work environment also tolerated gratuitous slides of pornographic images in job-training programs, and statues of sex organs and framed pornographic photos on the desks of officers, according to the legal action brought by Sgt. Sherry P. Bosley, 39, of Bel Air.

Sergeant Bosley's sex discrimination suit naming current and former state police administrators was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

A state police spokesman yesterday said that the department had not seen the suit and would not comment on the allegations.

"Certainly, harassment of any type within the Maryland State Police will not be tolerated," said spokesman Lt. Greg Shipley. He said that all such complaints are investigated promptly and thoroughly as part of a mandate from Col. Larry W. Tolliver, superintendent of the department.

The suit says that in 1992, after 12 years with the force, Sergeant Bosley left her job as a supervisor in the Criminal Intelligence Division because the environment had become intolerable.

Sergeant Bosley is asking for $1 million in compensatory damages, $1 million in punitive damages, plus court costs and legal fees.

The suit contends that she and other women in the department worked in an atmosphere of unwanted sexual advances, lewd gestures and ridicule.

When she complained to then head of internal affairs, Capt. John W. Howard, he discouraged her from pressing formal charges, predicting that she would be subjected to a "rape-like trial" in which her personal life and sexual history would be dissected, according to the suit.

When she persisted, she confronted more intense and public ridicule, the suit says.

One supervisor spread false accusations that Sergeant Bosley had been sexually promiscuous with a male colleague. Some troopers were advised to stay away from her, and others shunned her, according to court papers.

As she took her complaints up the chain of command, supervisors turned a blind eye to them and did little or nothing to investigate, according to the suit, and one supervisor called her sexually derogatory names. When a male colleague went to supervisors to substantiate some of Sergeant Bosley's stories, he suffered retaliation, the suit says.

"She was wholly committed to her life as a trooper," said Kathleen M. Cahill, Sergeant Bosley's lawyer. "It was particularly devastating in that she believed so much in the organization and right and wrong."

Only after exhausting her complaints within the department did Sergeant Bosley decide to pursue court action, Ms. Cahill said. "This lawsuit was her last resort."

Ms. Cahill said she would not elaborate on when specific incidents occurred and in which offices of the department until evidence is admitted in court.

In 1985, Sergeant Bosley was chosen from 60 members of the Special Services Division to be named the group's Trooper of the Year. She worked at undisclosed offices of the Criminal Intelligence Division from 1987 until her departure in May 1992. Since then she has been on an indefinite medical leave because of emotional distress from her experience, her suit says.

Her husband is a former trooper who retired on medical disability after he was hurt on the job, Ms. Cahill said.

State police are investigating a former Maryland Natural Resources police officer's sexual harassment complaint against that department. Bo Kali St. Wyatt, 31, said yesterday that she intends to ask the governor's office to rethink the state police role in investigating her complaints. State police got involved after she sent an 11-page letter to Gov. William Donald Schaefer in May 1992.

"How can they possibly investigate when they're allegedly guilty too?" Ms. St. Wyatt said. "These administrators are not protecting their own officers' rights. What can the citizens expect?"

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