A female detective who complained that male officers invited her to watch pornographic videos and kept a sex toy as an office mascot was exposed to sexual material because she works in the department's sex crimes unit, Fort Wayne's police chief said Friday.
Detective Bridget Glaser sued the city's police department claiming her civil rights were violated.
Her lawsuit notes that the department's officers include nearly 400 men and only 50 women and says Glaser — who has been on the force for nearly 20 years and a detective for 10 years — complained to superiors in 2010 that female officers were treated like "second-class citizens."
According to her lawsuit, one police sergeant pressured Glaser to view his personal collection of digital pornography and another kept a sex toy on his desk that was rotated around the office and at least once placed on Glaser's chair. The male officers routinely used the toy as a prop for obscene jokes and used it to simulate sex acts, the lawsuit claims. It says the toy was referred to as "the office mascot."
The sex toy was removed from the office shortly before Glaser met with police Chief Rusty York in April to complain about her colleagues' behavior, the lawsuit says.
Glaser's lawsuit, filed in federal court in September, says male officers continued to make obscene comments and jokes even after her meeting with the chief.
York said he had met with Glaser and investigated her claims. He said she works in the department's sex crimes unit and leads its Internet child pornography team, meaning she is "inherently" exposed to objectionable material.
"By the nature of that work, unfortunately, these men and women are exposed to very disgusting and repugnant, not only pieces on the Internet but pieces that we confiscate," York said in a phone interview Friday.
The lawsuit claims the men's behavior created a hostile work environment. Glaser is seeking unspecified damages and a court order barring similar behavior in the future.
York said officials believe her lawsuit is without merit.
"We feel comfortable with our actions," York said.