Former Arundel officer sued by three women

January 25, 2008|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

Three women have sued a former Anne Arundel County police officer who they claim asked them to bare their breasts during traffic stops -- and snapped a photograph of himself fondling one of them.

The lawsuits also target the county government and Police Department, saying they should never have hired, then failed to supervise, the rookie officer, Joseph F. Mosmiller.

Mosmiller, 23, was convicted of misconduct in office last year and stripped of his badge amid allegations that he had threatened to take the women to jail unless they agreed to lift their tops. The women in the lawsuits filed last week say Mosmiller used his position as a police officer to assault them, causing "personal, physical, emotional and mental injuries and anguish."

They also accuse former Chief P. Thomas Shanahan and his successor, James Teare Sr., of negligence, alleging that Mosmiller and other county police officers were hired despite being unqualified and failing necessary tests. When two of the women brought their allegations to the department, they were initially treated with skepticism and told to keep quiet, the suit claims.

The women each seek $3.5 million in damages. The Sun does not name victims of sexual assault.

"We believe that Chief Shanahan had information at the time that indicated [Mosmiller] should've never been hired in the first place," said John T. Hamilton Jr., an attorney representing the women. His clients "want to make sure the women of Anne Arundel County are safe and this doesn't happen anymore."

Mosmiller and Shanahan could not be reached for comment yesterday, and the department declined to comment, noting the pending litigation.

Cpl. O'Brien Atkinson, president of the officers union, said the incident has unfairly tarnished the reputation of the department and is not reflective of the police force.

"I don't think there were many people more upset than our police officers because, ultimately, it makes it more difficult for us to do our job," Atkinson said, adding that the hiring process is "rigorous."justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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