3 sue HPD for harassment
The officers say they suffered retaliation after complaining about work conditions
Three Honolulu police officers have filed a federal lawsuit against the Honolulu Police Department alleging harassment and retaliation.
The plaintiffs include a male and two female police officers, each of whom made complaints about their workplace environment only to have been retaliated against later by HPD officials, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are officers Alan Rivers and Sharolyn Rodrigues-Wong, and Detective Sheryl Sunia.
Examples of harassment and retaliation cited in the lawsuit include:
» A lieutenant made an inappropriate sexual remark at a March 18, 2003, meeting, which Rivers attended. Rivers filed a complaint with his watch commander and afterward was "retaliated" against by having his gun and badge taken away, becoming the subject of an Internal Affairs investigation and getting suspended.
» During a Nov. 18, 2004, meeting of the Criminal Investigation Division, a male detective described in detail about how a nurse fondled his genitals during a medical procedure, Sunia alleges. The lawsuit also states that during the same meeting a lieutenant played a video of "a group of naked men sky diving which clearly displayed their genitals."
The lawsuit also states that "higher-ranking officers sat through both presentations, listening, laughing, and did nothing to stop them."
Following the meeting, the lawsuit states, Sunia filed three sexual harassment complaints and was then met with a "campaign of retaliation" including her being falsely accused of perjury and having her police powers taken away.
» Beginning about August 2003, Rodrigues-Wong stated she was sexually harassed by an HPD corporal, who outranked her, while she was at the Kalihi Police Station, at crime scenes and other locations. The alleged harassment included the corporal coming up from behind and licking her ear, exposing his underwear to her and saying on different occasions in front of other officers that he wanted to have sex with her.
The lawsuit states that Rodrigues-Wong reported the harassment in November 2003 and was retaliated against by other officers, who refused to cover her or provide her backup while responding to police calls. The lawsuit also says that despite reporting the complaint to her superiors, the corporal continued to sexually harass her, including an occasion in 2004 during which he told Rodrigues-Wong to meet him outside, where he allegedly invited her to have a threesome with another "young Asian woman" who was sitting in his subsidized police vehicle.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified damages.
Capt. Frank Fujii said Police Chief Boisse Correa is confident that the officers named as defendants in the suit operated within proper guidelines.
In regards to Sunia's perjury accusation, a police spokeswoman said the case was dismissed and Sunia's police powers have since been restored, but an administrative investigation remains open.