Thursday, May 23, 2013

Female Police Officer Sued for Sex Harassment of Male Officers

Missoula detective accuses female officer of groping him and 2nd male coworker

May 22, 2013 8:44 am  • 

MISSOULA — A Missoula police officer who’s suing the department’s highest-ranking woman for sexual harassment has filed new court papers saying she also grabbed another officer’s butt.
Chris Shermer, who claims Lt. Sandy Kosena groped his rear end, filed a motion last week that includes an affidavit from former Missoula Police Officer Donald M. Strine, saying that “on several occasions, Sandy Kosena would pass me by and grab my buttocks.”

Kosena acknowledges in court papers that she “smacked” Shermer’s rear, but that it was a continuation of the horseplay that began earlier in the day when Shermer flipped her off. Her attorney, Brendon Rohan of Poore, Roth & Robinson in Butte, refused comment on the new allegations.
In December, the state Human Rights Bureau ruled that the incident with Kosena and Shermer did not constitute discrimination against Shermer, and dismissed the separate case he filed with that agency.
Strine is now a justice of the peace in Sanders County, but worked at the Missoula Police Department, first as a patrolman and then a training coordinator, for 24 years. His affidavit states that Kosena grabbed his rear both while he was on patrol, and when he was leaning against a chest-high reception desk in the department.

Shermer’s suit, filed in March, said he was near the reception desk on April 30, 2012, when Kosena “grabbed him on the left buttock with her left hand, placed her pinkie finger in between Chris Shermer’s buttocks, leaned in very close to his back and then whispered a sexual innuendo in his ear.”
The innuendo, he said, “was something to the effect that she wasn’t interested in my proposal.”
In her deposition taken last month, Kosena said that was part of a “joking” exchange that began with Shermer giving her and another officer the finger in public earlier that day. She said that when they returned to the office, she saw Shermer by the reception desk “and I commented to him, neither one of us were interested, and I smacked him on the butt and went on my way. … I had no belief that it was going to be offensive to him,” she said under questioning by Cory Gangle, Shermer’s attorney.
Gangle did not return a telephone call for comment.

In his motion, Shermer said he saw the other officer downtown that day, but did not see Kosena with him. In any event, he contends, he merely scratched his bicep with his middle finger.
Kosena’s later conduct “was completely unwanted, unwelcomed and unwarranted behavior,” according to the court papers filed by Shermer, who investigates Intenet sex crimes.
Although Shermer’s motion alleges other male officers had been “assaulted” by Kosena, the only one named is Strine.

Shermer’s suit originally named other officers and the police department itself; he seeks to amend it to focus only on Kosena and the city of Missoula. No ruling has been made on that change.
However, the response, filed in March, from the police department and Chief Mark Muir to Shermer’s suit contended that Shermer’s “action of flipping his middle finger at or in the direction of defendant Kosena was effective consent to her conduct.”

The city and Kosena seek dismissal of the charges. Natasha Jones of Boone Karlberg, representing the city, said that request is pending.
Shermer seeks actual and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees.

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