Cops Blew Off Sergeant’s Assault, She Claims

     CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) – When a Suffolk County precinct’s only female sergeant complained that a fellow officer sexually assaulted her, a union delegate responded by worrying how the allegation would affect his golf outing with the alleged perpetrator, a federal lawsuit states.
     Nearing her 25th year with the department, Cindy Olsen says that she oversees three other officers in her position as a Community Orientated Police Enforcement sergeant at Suffolk County’s 6th precinct.
     She claims the unwanted contact began in May 2014, when police officers had been eating at the picnic benches outside the precinct. There, another union delegate, Everett Wehr, rubbed up against Olsen while massaging her neck and back, according to the complaint.
     Olsen says that she asked him to stop and said: “Is this supposed to be a massage? I can feel your genitals.”
     Roughly a month later, on June 23, 2014, Wehr “exposed himself and put his erect penis over Cindy’s shoulder at mouth level,” according to the complaint.
     “He was holding his penis and pointing it at her,” the complaint states. “Cindy immediately covered her eyes with her hands, frightened, and hoping that, based on her response, Wehr would leave.”
     But, Olsen says in the lawsuit, Wehr did not leave and “violently” pulled her right wrist toward his penis.
     Though Wehr eventually let her hand go, Olsen says that he warned: “I’m coming back. I’ll be back. I’ll visit.”
     Olsen claims that union delegate Gary Thompson, who represents Olsen’s subordinate officers, literally threw his hands in air after she complained the next month that there had been a “serious” and “inappropriate” incident “of a sexual nature” involving Wehr, according to the lawsuit.
     “Oh, no. What did he do now?” Thompson allegedly said. “Never mind. I don’t want to know, I have to play golf with him later this week.”
     Olsen says that she hinted at the incident to the precinct’s inspector Thomas Palmieri in September without naming names, and Palmieri “hostilely” responded with questions like “Why didn’t you scream?” and “Why did you wait until now to report it?”
     The next time Olsen encountered Wehr, she says, she had been stationed at the house of a colleague who had been attending his son’s funeral.
     “Wehr then glanced over at Cindy and whistled at her,” the complaint states. “At one point he started strutting on the front path of the house. Cindy felt threatened and panicked and immediately got into her car and locked it.”
     At a weekly staff meeting on Oct. 8, 2014, Olsen says, she burst into tears and reported Wehr for the first time after a deputy lieutenant’s remark about sexual assault victims lying.
     Olsen says that she has been on leave since that time because of post-traumatic stress disorder and a fear of returning to work. She alleges that the department’s designee on sexual harassment waited five months after she reported an assault to ask her to file a complaint, and there has never been a follow-up interview since that time.
     The complaint alleges five counts of discrimination under federal and New York human rights laws.
     Olsen is represented by the Long Island-based firm White, Ricotta & Marks.
     The Suffolk County Police Department declined to comment on a pending lawsuit.

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