DPD chief backs up academy supervisors not bringing complaint to internal affairs

DPD chief backs up academy supervisors not bringing complaint to internal affairs

Credit: WFAA

Dallas Police Department headquarters



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Posted on May 22, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Updated Thursday, May 22 at 9:30 PM

DALLAS -- Police Chief David Brown issued a statement Thursday defending the decision of police supervisors who did not refer an allegation of sexual harassment made by one academy recruit against another re‎cruit to internal affairs for an investigation.

The chief said although the behavior was deemed inappropriate, the matter was not sent to internal affairs because it has been "long standing department policy based on the behavior occurring off-duty and not on city premises."‎

In response, attorneys representing the recruit, Rebecca Knutson, renewed their calls for an independent investigation. Knutson filed a sexual harassment complaint Monday with the city’s human resources department.

"We hope an investigation ‎will address our client's initial complaints of enduring grossly inappropriate comments about another recruit's genitals, offensive physical contact, and receiving numerous unwanted text messages after telling the perpetrator to stop," her attorney Bob Gorsky said in a statement. "Much of the inappropriate behavior occurred on-duty at the police academy. Unfortunately, Chief Brown's statement today appears to minimize the seriousness of the initial complaint."

He added that any investigation needs to look into the department's motive for "quashing" the sexual harassment complaint.

That male recruit is the son of a current Dallas police officer who has been known to be a close friend of Brown.

‎On Monday, the chief issued a statement saying that Brown were made aware of the sexual harassment allegation. He wrote that they conducted “a review of the allegation, and after talking with the parties involved, determined the behavior inappropriate and counseled the involved recruits.”

The chief acknowledged that the recruit who is the subject of the sexual harassment allegation is the son of a current Dallas police officer and has worked in assignments with him. He denied that any special treatment had been given.‎

According to Knutson's complaint, the male recruit sent her ‎text messages and made inappropriate comments -— including remarks about the size of his genitals, sent a text message of himself shirtless, and a picture of his bare buttocks.

She said she told him to stop contacting her because he was making her uncomfortable. Instead, she said the harassment continued.

In her complaint, Knutson said that in mid-March, she her police academy class coordinator that she was being sexually harassed. She also provided officials the text messages and photographs, the letter said.

In the chief's statement Thursday, he said that the sister of Knutson was also in the police academy. He said that she told officials during the review that she had been involved with the male recruit and that she had asked him to sent the photos to her sister's phone because her phone wasn't capable of receiving photos.

The chief wrote that the department is consulting with the City Attorney's office about how to handle Knutson's new allegations.

Knutson has alleged that the harassment continued and that the male recruit would "intensely stare at her" and mutter curse words about her under his breath. Other times, she said, he would block her path.

On one occasion, she said he called and angrily demanded to know if she was the one who had filed the complaint against him. ‎She said she felt very threatened.

E-mail teiserer@wfaa.com