Yes, Officer, We Do Have a Problem

     CHICAGO (CN) – After demanding and receiving sex from a jailed transgender woman, a Chicago cop threatened her by saying, “We’re not going to have a problem now, are we?” the woman claims in court.
     Parresse Edwards sued Chicago and police Officer Nelson Stewart in Federal Court. She claims that Stewart has been charged with multiple felonies.
     “On June 6, 2012, then 29-year-old plaintiff, Paresse Edwards was arrested and taken to District 11 for processing,” the complaint states.
     “Plaintiff is a transgender female. Transgender is when the state of one’s gender identity does not match one’s assigned sex. Therefore, while plaintiff’s assigned sex at birth was male, plaintiff identifies as a female.
     “After processing, Ms. Edwards was placed in a cell by herself.
     “While she was in the cell, defendant Stewart complimented Ms. Edwards on her appearance and made sexually suggestive comments.
     “Later, defendant Steward transferred Ms. Edwards to a different cell which was located farther in the back.
     “Defendant Stewart, who is a large and imposing man, repeatedly ordered and forced Ms. Edwards to engage in sexual acts.
     “During the assault Ms. Edwards was able to conceal evidence.
     “After defendant Stewart left, Ms. Edwards tried to get the attention of another officer. When she finally was able to, however, the officer did nothing other than report her complaint of sexual assault to defendant Stewart.
     “Defendant Stewart returned to Ms. Edwards’ cell, visibly angry, and said, ‘We’re not going to have a problem now, are we?’
     “After the shifts changed in the morning, Ms. Edwards was finally able to report what had happened, and present her evidence to the authorities.”
     After Edwards complained, Stewart, a 24-year veteran, was relieved of his duties and charged with multiple felonies, according to the complaint.
     The Chicago Tribune reported in September 2012 that police matched DNA taken from the cell to both Stewart and Edwards. Stewart, then 59, offered to release Edwards in return for the sexual favors, according to the Tribune’s Sept. 28 report.
     Edwards claims in the lawsuit that the Chicago Police Department has “no written policies or training materials with respect to gender-identity or gender-identity expression.”
     She says the city routinely fails to fully investigate accusations of sexual assault against officers. This led Stewart to believe “that his misconduct would not be revealed or reported by fellow officers or their supervisors, that their denials would go unchallenged by these supervisors and fellow officers, and that they were effectively immune from disciplinary action, thereby protecting them from the consequences of their unconstitutional and illegal conduct,” according to the complaint.
     Edwards seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations, including unreasonable seizure and violation of equal protection, violation of the Illinois Gender Violence Act, assault and battery and emotional distress.
     She is represented by Christopher Smith with Smith, Johnson & Anholt.

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