HOUSTON (CN) - A police chief and two officers claim a former colleague defamed them in a gender discrimination complaint to the EEOC. The three Galena Park police officers sued Corrie Long and her attorneys for going public with claims that the chief and a sergeant forced her to resign by threatening to release topless photos of her to the media if she did not.
Police Chief Robert Pruett, Sgt. Jonathan Rader and patrol Officer Edward Mata sued former probation Officer Corrie Long, her attorney David Tang and his firm Michael P. Fleming & Associates, in Harris County Court.
Galena Park is a suburb of Houston, near the Houston Ship Channel.
According to Long's EEOC claim, she was involved in a romantic relationship with fellow Galena Park police Officer Terry Pena during her tenure with the department.
"In February, 2011, Robert Pruett, GPPD Police Chief, informed Corrie and Pena that their relationship violated his oral policy of 'no dating in the workplace.' Consequently, Corrie ended her relationship with Pena. Pruett then suspended Corrie for 5 days and Pena for 10 days. However, Pena was not made to serve the suspension and Corrie completed hers immediately as ordered," Long says in her EEOC complaint.
Long says in her attorney's letter to the EEOC that when she broke off her relationship with Pena he went ballistic: "Pena harassed, badgered, and threatened Corrie to continue their romantic relationship. Pena would incessantly call Corrie and bombard her with inappropriate text messages and threats of exploiting her with the pictures he had obtained during their relationship if she didn't continue their relationship. Despite this duress, Corrie refused to have any relationship with Pena."
Pena resigned in March this year, and then sent to Pruett "topless and sexually suggestive pictures" Long had sent him during their relationship to Pruett, according to the letter to the EEOC.
She claims that Pena also sent Pruett "a recording of a phone conversation he had with another GPPD Police Officer, Eddie Mata. Pena falsely alleged that Corrie was still in a relationship with him. Pena also revealed to Pruett that Eddie Mata admitted to have a sexual relationship with a seventeen (17) year old GPPD dispatcher."
Long says Pruett then ordered her to attend a meeting with him and Sgt. Rader.
"Chief Pruett and Sgt. Rader interrogated Corrie for almost a little over an hour without any breaks. During this session, they demanded that she tell them every place that she and Pena had sexual intercourse. Pruett and Rader asked Corrie to describe the type of sex that she and Pena engaged in. Pruett and Rader wanted to know whether she performed oral sex on Pena. At all times, Corrie was not allowed to leave nor was she comfortable in the room with two men demanding details about her sexual history," according to Long's EEOC claim.
The letter to the EEOC continues: "Pruett and Rader began harassing Corrie about the topless photos and shut her off every time she tried to explain to them that Pena was not honest with his allegations and he had been threatening to reveal the pictures for a month through phone calls and texts. Pruett repeatedly told her that 'this is how beauty queens lose their crown' and she needed to resign. Corrie refused each time they demanded that she resign. She told Pruett and Rader that this was embarrassing and needed to leave the meeting. Pruett and Rader did not allow her to leave the room ordering her to resign. Finally, Pruett and Rader threatened that the topless pictures would be made public if Corrie did not resign.
"Pruett and Rader then began leering at and making sexual comments and jokes about her photographs which Sgt. Rader had printed off of the computer in color and had on display laying across Pruett's desk. Pruett and Rader again ordered her to resign and showed her a copy of a pre-written resignation letter. At this point, Corrie became more distressed, anxious, and scared in fear of the pictures being made public. Corrie signed Pruett's resignation letter under a direct order to do so, and also desperate to escape the room.
"Shockingly, Pruett and Rader did not question Mata about his relationship with a seventeen year old minor while they were both employed at GPPD. Pruett and Rader did not attack Mata with any ferocity as they did with Corrie. In fact, Pruett did not even discipline Mata for having sexual relationships with a minor, despite his admission on tape."
In her EEOC claim, Long says Pruett "has a different standard for males and females," and that she was constructively fired due to her gender.
KPRC Local 2 and My Fox Houston reported Long's story on Monday. The officers filed their defamation complaint against her and her attorneys on Tuesday.
In their lawsuit, the officers claim the statements Long released to the media through her attorney, defendant Tang, are "false and inflammatory."
The officers claim that Long resigned after "serious disciplinary infractions involving both policy violations and lack of clear and mature judgment."
In an interview with KHOU 11 News, the officers' attorney Paul LaValle said, "Those photographs were not in the room. The chief and the sergeant did not ask the questions or pressure her like she claims. She resigned of her own free will. She resigned out of the embarrassment and humiliation she felt on how she disgraced the badge."
The officers seek damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.