DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There are calls for an outside investigation of the Dallas Police Department after sexual harassment claims by two female recruits. One of the recruits says she is still being harassed and even fears for her safety.
Their attorney is raising questions about whether the department is doing enough to address their concerns. A letter was sent to the Dallas City Manager on Monday demanding an outside agency investigate DPD’s handling of sexual harassment complaints. Despite evidence, a female recruit says her complaint was not taken seriously and that supervisors actually questioned whether she should remain in the academy.
A Dallas Police recruit sent a shirtless pic and another of his naked backside to Rebecca Knutson over the phone. The female recruit says she replied asking him to stop contacting her.
But he later sent her a poem along with more unwanted messages.
“She was very uncomfortable, she was embarrassed she asked him to stop and he did not stop,” says Bob Gorsky, Knutson’s Attorney. Gorsky says his client filed a complaint. He calls the response of police department officials appalling.
“She was asked if she had the mettle to continue in that academy class,” says Gorsky. In her complaint letter, the recruit, Knutson, says she was asked by a supervisor if she needed to be “recycled to a later class.” The recruit says she replied quote, “I did not do anything wrong, and that I worked too hard to get to this point.
Knutson says since coming forward she’s been retaliated against, accusing the other recruit of “staring at me,” “physically blocking the aisles in the classroom” and continuing to call asking why she complained.
“I was so afraid” she says she asked a friend to stay with her “until my dad could get up here.”
Knutson’s attorney wants to know why the department did not conduct an internal affairs investigation as required under the departments general orders.
“Why was this not sent over to internal affairs? Who stopped it and why did they stop it?,” asks Gorsky.
Police Chief David Brown issued a statement saying the academy staff conducted a review and “determined the behavior inappropriate, and counseled the involved recruits.” The chief also acknowledged that the accused recruit is the son of a current officer.
“They’re sending a terrible message to the recruits or any officer who’s got an allegation of sexual harassment that if you come to us, we might just not do anything about it,” says Gorsky.
Gorsky says last week a third female officer filed a civil rights complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission over a sexual harassment allegation involving a supervisor in her division.
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