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York: Sexual harassment suit is without merit

FORT WAYNE -- A city police detective's claims that she was subjected to sexual harassment via obscene jokes, sexist remarks and pornography from others within her male-dominated unit are "misleading and inaccurate," Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York said Friday.

Detective Bridget Glaser, who became an officer in 1993 and a detective in 2002, is suing the department in U.S. District Court for unspecified damages, saying her rights were violated during at least the past two years.

In her lawsuit filed last month, Glaser paints her unit as one where women were regularly demeaned, lewd remarks and hand gestures were the norm and a sex toy was used as a mascot of sorts.

All of which York called into question.

"Any claim that the Fort Wayne Police Department is liable to Detective Glaser for violation of rights or sexual harassment is without merit," York said. "I think people need to understand the environment she works in."

By her choice, York said, Glaser works mainly with sex crimes and has led the department's efforts in investigating such crimes against children. Detectives in that unit come in contact regularly with materials York said are "repugnant and offensive."

"That's why there is pornography in the workplace, or a sex toy," he said. "These officers deal with forensic retrieval of evidence from phones and computers. There's going to be evidence that's going to be processed that's going to be pretty disgusting."

Glaser could not be reached for comment Thursday or Friday. A message left for her lawyer Friday was not returned.

In her lawsuit, Glaser's claims include that:

  • A sergeant forced her to look at his personal pornography collection.
  • A sex toy was used as the unit's mascot, and it was placed as a joke on people's chairs or desks or used to simulate sex acts or positions.
  • Men in the unit would refer to their genitals and female co-workers in obscene terms.
In her suit, Glaser said she went to York with her complaints in April of this year, something York said is true.

"Her concerns were comprehensively investigated," York said. "Whenever someone makes claims like this, I have my nose deep in this, talking to personnel and supervisors. We felt comfortable that an appropriate workplace existed."

Glaser is still employed with the police department, York said. He said the city will fight the lawsuit properly in the court system. No trial date has been set and the city has yet to file a formal response to the suit.

While York said the lawsuit "reflects Detective Glaser's perspective of events," he believes his department will ultimately be absolved of her claims as it progresses through the court system.

"We're going to defend against this," he said. "We feel, going through the process, we will be exonerated."

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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