Trooper files sexual harassment, discrimination suit against state police

June 24, 1994|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,Sun Staff Writer

Claiming that a state police supervisor exposed himself and repeatedly asked for sexual favors, a female trooper filed a sexual harassment and discrimination suit yesterday -- the third such suit filed against the agency this year.

Trooper Susan Smith, 28, once an undercover narcotics officer, said the sexual advances became intolerable and she complained to her superiors. In response, she received a string of poor evaluations, was denied a promotion and was transferred to a desk job, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

"Trooper Smith is a very committed trooper who resorts to using the courts reluctantly," said her attorney, Kathleen M. Cahill. "The department completely ignored her complaints and refused to investigate under their own procedures purportedly in place for just that purpose."

A state police spokesman declined to discuss the suit.

"We haven't seen it," Lt. Gregory Shipley said. "We cannot comment."

Trooper Smith, an eight-year veteran of the force, said she started having trouble in 1991, after she was assigned to an undercover drug task force in Kent County.

She said male colleagues told her women did not belong on the force. When Trooper Smith became pregnant, male supervisors said she "was not really a trooper while pregnant," according to the suit.

One supervisor, Sgt. Michael J. Callanan, repeatedly asked her to perform sexual favors, the suit says. The suit also claims that he exposed himself to the female trooper.

Sergeant Callanan did not return messages left at state police headquarters yesterday.

Trooper Smith said in her suit that she complained to her superiors. She said Sergeant Callanan retaliated by writing bad evaluations and helping to deny her a promotion. Since returning from a pregnancy leave late last year, she has been assigned to a desk job 72 miles from her home.

"That retaliatory action was taken solely as a result of plaintiff's sex and her speaking out against sex discrimination and sexual harassment," according to the suit, which seeks $2 million in damages.

Two similar suits have been filed against the state police this year, under the federal law that prohibits sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

In one of the other suits, a decorated female trooper claims she was subjected to a hostile work environment -- unwanted sexual advances, lewd comments, ridicule and retaliation for complaining to her bosses.

Sgt. Sherry P. Bosley said in her suit, filed in January, that one of her supervisors kept a ceramic statue of a sex organ on his desk and that a male colleague maintained a lending library of pornographic films for his fellow troopers.

The 14-year veteran of the force claimed that one of her supervisors spread stories around the department, saying she was having sex with one of her co-workers.

The stories, she said in the suit, undermined her authority as a supervisor in the criminal intelligence division.

Sergeant Bosley said that when she complained to internal affairs, the chief discouraged her, telling her she would be subjected to an ordeal like a rape trial. She took her complaints up the chain of command, but nothing was done to investigate them, according to the suit, which seeks $2 million in damages.

She has since retired.

In a related suit filed in March, Sgt. William H. Harden said he was transferred after he went to supervisors to substantiate Sergeant Bosley's claims.

The 14-year veteran of the force said he was at a meeting when one of Sergeant Bosley's co-workers claimed she was promiscuous and was having sex with a colleague. Sergeant Harden, 44, said a supervisor at the meeting took no action to stop the conversation or to report it.

Instead, according to the suit, Sergeant Harden was transferred from the criminal intelligence division to a road patrol job in Annapolis. The suit, which seeks $2 million in damages, says state police supervisors retaliated against him because he sided with Sergeant Bosley and complained about the remarks.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.