An East St. Louis woman who was employed as a secretarial intern at the East St. Louis Police Department in 2014 has filed a lawsuit alleging there is a pattern of police officers harassing women in the work place and not being held accountable.
The federal suit, filed by St. Louis attorney Tom Kennedy on behalf of Terryana Richardson, 26, further alleges that many city officials tried to “fix it” instead of addressing the situation.
Richardson filed complaints on Jan. 28 and 29, 2015, against former Assistant Police Chief Ronald Ike with the Illinois Department of Human Rights alleging sex discrimination and sexual harassment.
On Oct. 23, the human rights department notified Richardson that she had “substantial evidence” to pursue further action.
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The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis. It claims that Ike “sexually harassed her and caused her to flee from the workplace, which she described as hostile.”And, since Ike was on duty and wearing his full police uniform and was Richardson’s supervisor, “he was acting under the color of law.”
The suit names Ike individually and the city of East St. Louis as plaintiffs. Ike, who resigned last year from the police force, could not be reached for comment.
City officials, including Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks, could not be reached for comment on the suit.
After the incident, “multiple persons, including city officials, attempted to keep her quiet,” according to the suit. Richardson alleges that someone sent “unknown persons to her parents home to scare them and her.” The suit said shortly after she filed her complains someone kicked down the door of her parents home.
“The two masked men forcibly entered the home but didn’t take anything and they didn’t say anything. They shot up the ceiling in the house and then left,” the suit says.
Richardson was not home at the time but her three children and mother were present, according to the suit.
Richardson could not be reached for comment.
Kennedy asserts in the lawsuit that the city of East St. Louis “has a policy and practice of discovering but failing to remedy ongoing sexual misconduct of women and girls by its employees and police officers. ...” He said the city allows the police “code of silence” to rule the workplace.
“The city of East St. Louis has a policy and practice of failing to properly train, supervise, discipline, monitor, counsel and otherwise control police officers in its employ, when for years the city of East St. Louis has known its officers engage in sexual misconduct, such as searches and seizures of female persons.”
The city also has a practice of allowing officers to file false police reports and give false statements and testimony regarding claims of sexual harassment brought by females against East St. Louis Police officers, Kennedy said.
Richardson was working in the police department as an intern. She was part of the summer youth employment program operated by the Emerson Park Development Corporation, funded by the state. She started working in the police department on Aug. 26, 2014, with the task of sorting traffic tickets in the records office.
According to the suit, Ike often talked to her and touched her inappropriately. On one occasion, Ike left his office, where she was placed to work, then came back and told her that he had expected to find her naked when he returned. He told her he had the only key to his office.
After the patten continued, she told Vicky Forby, her employer at Emerson Park Development Corporation. Forby brought it to the attention of city officials, including Mayor Alvin L. Parks Jr. and former Police Chief Michael Floore and City Manager Deletra Hudson.
None are still in their respective jobs. They could not be reached for comment.
The suit alleges that Richardson learned there was a campaign underway in the city to smear her credibility, She was characterized as someone with “loose morals who was only interested in Ike’s money and that she was going to get hurt if she pursued her clams against Ike.”
Carolyn P. Smith: 618-239-2503