The city of Pittsburg, its police chief and a former police officer have been sued by a woman who says they failed to protect her from a sexual assault alleged to have happened on Aug. 26.
The former officer, Jesse Edward Loren Davis, 22, was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery and official misconduct.
Davis is accused of asking a woman he arrested to flash him and allow him to touch her breasts. Davis arrested the woman after a domestic disturbance and told her that he would help get her out of the charges she faced, the lawsuit says.
The woman told investigators she lifted her shirt and was able to maneuver herself into a position that allowed Davis to reach through the patrol car’s partition into the back seat where he touched her breasts. The lawsuit says she felt coerced and agreed to his advances out of fear.
The lawsuit accuses the city of tolerating an atmosphere of sexual misconduct and undue familiarity within the Police Department that goes beyond this one incident, the woman’s attorney, Corey Adams said in an email to The Eagle.
The lawsuit also alleges that the department allowed Davis to patrol the city and transport detainees despite having not been fully certified through the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Academy.
The city of Pittsburg did not immediately return a call and email for comment on Monday, but sent an email to The Eagle on Tuesday saying, "It would be improper to discuss the specifics of a pending lawsuit. However, we can assure our citizens that we take seriously any allegations or complaints against the city. Our top priority is and will remain the safety and well-being of the citizens we are charged to serve."
On the day of the alleged assault, Davis was sent to the woman’s address after a landlord reported she and her fiance were fighting. When police arrived, the woman was undressed in another room. While she got dressed, she accidentally called a friend through the Facebook Messenger app. That friend heard the police radios and stayed connected because she was afraid the woman was in trouble, the lawsuit says.
Meanwhile, the couple told officers their argument never became physical. Officers found scratches on the man’s back, which the pair said came from consensual sex earlier in the day.
The suit says Davis told them one person had to be detained when police were called about suspected domestic violence. He and other officers decided to detain the woman, who had never been arrested before.
During the 30 minute drive to the jail, the lawsuit says Davis noticed the woman had cuts on her neck and told her, “you are too pretty to hurt yourself.”
The lawsuit also alleges Davis showed the woman pictures of naked women and himself on his cellphone before asking her to let him touch her breasts.
There was no recording device on Davis’ uniform or in his car. However, the lawsuit said the woman’s friend who had been connected through Facebook Messenger heard the entire exchange. Davis had placed the arrestee’s cellphone on his passenger seat, the lawsuit says.
The call lasted 47 minutes.
The friend on the other end of the call was able to record part of it, and three other people listened as the call was happening, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also says that former police officers have repeatedly reported instances of sexual harassment and discrimination, but the city has allowed the behavior to go on, largely unchecked.
The lawsuit lays out two examples. According to it, a former employee complained of a superior using his status within the Police Department to gain sexual advantage over her. Another officer complained of being fired after another officer’s complaints of sexual misconduct weren’t addressed. The city settled that claim by paying him a settlement of $400,000, the lawsuit says.
This lawsuit, which was filed Monday, seeks damages of more than $75,000.