CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A former Chattanooga Police officer claims in a lawsuit that she was sexually assaulted by a fellow cadet while she was a cadet.
The woman says she did not report the assault at the time, for fear of her future as a police officer. But she says when she later reported the incident as an officer, she suffered hardships in her job.
(It is NewsChannel 9's longstanding policy to not identify victims or alleged victims of sexual assault; We will not be identifying the officer in this story, or posting the full lawsuit).
The former officer says while she attended the Chattanooga Police cadet academy, but while off-duty, another academy cadet assaulted her.
The lawsuit says "Because of the embarrassment and humiliation of the assault and because Plaintiff did not know how the assault would affect her status with the academy, she did not report the sexual assault."
Both the woman and her alleged assailant then became officers, assigned to two different sectors in the city.
But in September 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sectors combined. The woman said she felt uncomfortable being around the officer who assaulted her.
After one meeting, she confronted the officer, and told him she felt the need to report the incident.
A short time later, she was called into a meeting with Internal Affairs.
At that meeting, she says in the lawsuit she was "confronted by two male officers" about the incident. They asked her to go into detail about what happened. The lawsuit says she was "humiliated and embarrassed by having to reveal what had taken place, and the recall of the events caused additional emotional distress."
From that point, the officer says she was "retaliated against." That included being threatened with criminal action, charged with wrongdoing, and ostracized by her co-workers, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says she was regularly reprimanded or suspended for things that in the past would only necessitate a conversation with her supervisor about proper protocol.
The woman says Internal Affairs opened an investigation into her conduct. But no similar Internal Affairs investigation was conducted for her assailant, the woman claims.
What's more, the woman claims "male officers began to stop responding to back up Plaintiff when she made traffic stops," which "endangered Plaintiff's life and safety."
It got to the point where the woman felt she was forced to resign, in May 2021, after serving five years on the force.
The woman's lawsuit calls for an award of damages for lost wages, and that she be hired again with Chattanooga Police without harassment or retaliation.
She is also asking for compensatory damages of $500,000 and punitive damages of $500,000.
We have reached out to Chattanooga Police for comment on this lawsuit. A spokesman told us CPD cannot comment on pending litigation.
Depend on us to keep you posted as we learn more.