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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Virginia Cop Says She Was Fired for Being Gay

NORFOLK, Va. (CN) - A lesbian police officer claims the Virginia State Police Department booted her for her sexual orientation rather than accusations of improper database searches.

Crystal Ramsey of Virginia Beach, Va., claims she was discriminated against by her superior officers W.S. (Steve) Flaherty and Eric Bruno.

Ramsey says a meeting took place in May 2013 between her and her superior officers, who confronted Ramsey about her relationship with her girlfriend. During the meeting, Bruno also asked Ramsey whether she conducted certain specific searches on the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN), according to a lawsuit Ramsey filed last month.

The VCIN is a statewide data communication network managed by state police, which links to various other law enforcement systems.

Initially, Ramsey was unsure if she had conducted the searches, but was later informed the searches she ran were improper, and she was suspended as a result. Her lawsuit does not state what the searches were for.

In addition to the suspension, police also sought to criminally prosecute Ramsey for the improper searches, she claims. Criminal charges were filed by the Commonwealth's Attorney in Virginia Beach, according to her lawsuit.

The Virginia Beach Commonwealth's Attorney issued a formal notice of abandonment of the charges, but, eventually, the Commonwealth's Attorney in Norfolk agreed to proceed with criminal charges, Ramsey says.

Ramsey was charged with 15 counts of using a computer to gather identifying information in violation of state law and 15 counts of computer invasion of privacy, according to the complaint.

She was found guilty of 13 of the computer invasion of privacy charges, and her appeal of those convictions is pending.

By May 2015, Ramsey had officially been fired. Following her termination, Ramsey filed an administrative claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which failed to resolve the claim and issued Ramsey a right-to-sue letter.

According to Ramsey's lawsuit, no other state police employees who committed the same offense that Ramsey allegedly committed have been suspended for the length of time that she was, nor were any police employees fired as a result of engaging in the same conduct.

Ramsey claims that the only difference between her and other employees of the state police force who engaged in similar conduct is her sexual orientation. She says her career in law enforcement is over as a result of police actions.

On Jan. 11, 2014, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order that prohibits discrimination against homosexual state employees.

Ramsey seeks $300,000 in compensatory damages for sex discrimination and violation of public policy.

Ramsey's attorney Gregory Klein and representatives of the Virginia Department of State Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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