News coverage of lawsuit filed by Nina Pirrotti, Joshua Goodbaum, and Elisabeth Lee: Campus Cop: Repeated Rapes by Fellow Officer Ignored at CCSU

Mar 20 2019

As it appeared on the Connecticut Law Tribune and Yahoo Finance

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges a female CCSU police officer was raped three times by a fellow officer. The suit claims the woman was also sexually harassed by other co-workers and superiors. It seeks compensatory and punitive damages.

By Robert Storace

A former eight-year veteran of the Central Connecticut State University Police Department has accused a former fellow officer of raping her on three separate occasions, and says her superiors failed to investigate the alleged crimes.

The 40-page federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the District of Connecticut alleges the plaintiff, only identified as Jane Doe, was also subjected to other officers and supervisors propositioning her for sex. She also claimed those same people “repeatedly touched her breasts and buttocks in the workplace.”

The lawsuit claims the university hired officers with “red flags” in their background.

“This is a case about abject institutional failure at Central Connecticut State University that resulted in repeated acts of unspeakable sexual violence by one CCSU police officer against another,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit claims the atmosphere within the university’s police force is fraught with misbehavior of a sexual nature. It claims the university allowed officers and their supervisors “to routinely make sexually graphic comments in the workplace about the female students they were tasked to protect and about their coworker, Officer Jane Doe.”
The law firm of Shipman & Goodwin conducted an independent investigation of the CCSU Police Department in 2018 and concluded that “sexual misconduct and assault was inevitable” in the environment within the school’s police force, according to the lawsuit.

Janice Palmer, director of public relations for CCSU, said she’d look into the matter and give a comment. She had not provided a comment at press time.

Jane Doe was an officer from 2010 to July 2018 when she went on Family and Medical Leave Act leave. She has yet to return. Doe alleges the officer raped her twice in the summer of 2014 and once again in the fall of 2016. The lawsuit does not state why Doe did not report the alleged rapes to the city’s police department, but says she was fearful of reporting it to the school’s police force for fear of retaliation. Doe eventually reported the alleged sex assault to a lieutenant within the school’s police force and to the university’s police chief, but to no avail, according to her complaint.

The chief’s response, the lawsuit says, “was more feeble that his lieutenant’s.”

“He did and said nothing,” the complaint alleges.

Doe, the suit contends, suffered severe retaliation after telling her supervisors of the alleged rapes.

“Although senior officers on the force had previously subjected Officer Doe to bullying tactics, after her report the harassment intensified in frequency and nature,” the suit says. That harassment, the lawsuit says, was called “bogarting” and entailed usurping Doe’s authority in making decisions for her when she was first on the scene of an incident in her primary jurisdiction.

Eventually, the lawsuit said, Doe notified a senior official with the university’s Office of Diversity and Equity of the alleged assaults. Soon after, the police officer who allegedly raped Doe was put on paid leave for nearly a full year until the university terminated him. That male officer has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached. In addition, someone who answered the phone at the police department Wednesday morning said the chief is out of the office for several weeks. The chief also has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment before press time.

Representing the plaintiff are Nina Pirrotti, Joshua Goodbaum and Elisabeth Lee, all of New Haven-based Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti. Pirrotti told the Connecticut Law Tribune the firm would not be commenting on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks economic damages, compensatory damages and punitive damages,

The university has been in the news in recent months because several professors had been accused of having inappropriate relationships with female students.

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