News

Female cop: Gettysburg ignored harassment for years

Written by Lillian Reed/Hanover Evening Sun | Feb 24, 2017 12:47 PM
GettysburgBorough-thumb-600x450-24284-cropped-proto-custom_1.jpg

The officer's superior allegedly ignored her complaints and told her to "thicken [her] skin"

(Gettysburg) -- Gettysburg's only female police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the borough and several officers for allegedly discriminating against her gender and retaliating against her after she complained of sexual harassment.

Officer Brandi Courtesis is seeking $100,000 in damages from the Gettysburg Borough and three officers for allegedly creating a hostile work environment and discriminating against her, according to the suit filed Feb. 14 in the United States Middle District Court. The suit names Gettysburg officer Michael Carricato, Chief Joe Dougherty and Sgt. Larry Weikert.

After Courtesis filed a complaint in October with the Philadelphia branch of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she alleges she was retaliated against, the suit states.

The borough's insurance company has selected an attorney to represent the municipality in the case, council President Robert Krummerich said in an email Wednesday night. He did not give the name of the attorney and indicated that the council will not make any further comment until briefed by the legal counsel, he said.

All three officers named in the suit remain on duty. The woman who filed the suit also continues to work for the borough, said Gettysburg Mayor Theodore Streeter, who is responsible for overseeing the police department.

This is the second lawsuit filed against Gettysburg Borough this year.

Gettysburg resident Derek J. Twyman filed a federal lawsuit in January alleging his civil rights were violated during his arrest for allegedly violating a protection from abuse order in May 2015, which involved several Gettysburg Borough and Gettysburg College police officers. Two of the officers implicated in the case resigned from the borough last year as part of collective bargaining agreements with the municipality.

In Courtesis' suit, the officer alleges she was repeatedly ignored for two years by her superiors, Dougherty and Weikert, when she complained that Carricato was sexually harassing her.

Courtesis and Carricato had a relationship for several months in 2014. But in the fall of 2015, Carricato allegedly began making inappropriate and sexually explicit comments to her in the workplace, the suit states.

When Courtesis complained to her supervisors, Dougherty allegedly issued both Carricato and Courtesis counselling memos, a form of discipline, according to the suit.

In the last two years, Courtesis continued to approach supervising officers -- the chief, the borough manager, the borough secretary, human resources officials  -- about the sexual harassment claims, but the complaints were allegedly never addressed, the suit states.

In December 2015, Carricato allegedly threatened her in an attempt to get her to retract her complaints, saying he would "do everything in his power to make sure she was dragged down with him," the suit states.

Courtesis withdrew her complaint as a result.

In early 2016, Courtesis was transferred to a new squad overseen by Weikert. He allegedly told Courtesis she had to "thicken her skin." Carricato was also transferred to the same squad shortly thereafter and the sexual harassment continued, according to the suit.

Gettysburg's only female police officer has filed a federal lawsuit against the borough and several officers for allegedly discriminating against her gender and retaliating against her after she complained of sexual harassment.Lillian Reed

 

Some additional claims in the suit include how Courtesis was allegedly asked during her job interview with the department if she intended to have more children and asked if she could handle joking of a sexual nature. She was allegedly passed over for a job promotion that was offered to Carricato, despite Courtesis having seniority over him.

The suit also states that when officers in the department learned of the sexual harassment and the officer's complaints, they allegedly joked about the harassment and Courtesis in her presence.

Courtesis will be represented by Mark B. Frost & Associates in court, where she is seeking $100,000 in damages for emotional distress and missed overtime shifts when the department required her to work on the same assignment as Carricato. The case will come before Judge Yvette Kane.

Gettysburg Borough was named in another gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a female police officer in 2007. Officer Sharon Gelwicks sued the borough, then-Mayor William Troxell and former police Chief Rolf Garcia.

Garcia resigned from his post before the complaint was filed and the borough later settled with Gelwicks out of court. Dougherty was hired to replace Garcia in 2006 and Troxell stepped down from his post as mayor in 2016.

This article is part of a partnership between WITF and the Hanover Evening Sun.

 

Published in Adams County, News

Tagged under , , , , , , ,

back to top

Give Now

Estate Planning

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Smart Talk

National Edward R. Murrow Awards

DuPont Columbia Awards

Support Local Journalism

Latest News from NPR

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »