3 female Salt Lake officers suing over sexual harassment

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Three current and former female Salt Lake City police officers are suing the city over claims they were sexually harassed by a deputy chief, their attorney said.

Lawyer Ed Brass filed a lawsuit Friday in 3rd District Court against the city, the department, former Police Chief Chris Burbank and former Deputy Chief Rick Findlay.

"Our case is proof that, despite it being 2015, sexual harassment is alive and well, and so is the system that provides more protections to perpetrators than victims," the woman said in a joint statement.

Officer Tiffany Commagere, Sgt. Robin Heiden and former Lt. Melody Gray say the city and Burbank did nothing about Findlay's alleged harassment in 2013. Findlay was allowed to remain on duty for months despite an internal affairs review that found their allegations were substantiated, they added.

They are seeking an undisclosed amount of damages, including for salary loss, attorney's fees and emotional pain.

Findlay is accused of sharing an image of Heiden and Gray in bikinis and a nude photo purportedly of Commagere, who denies such a photo existed. He was placed on paid leave in November 2013 amid an internal investigation into the allegations and resigned in June 2014. But the accusations became public in May, leading to political turmoil for the ex-chief and mayor.

Burbank last year wrote that Findlay's conduct called into question not only his personal professionalism but that of the entire police department. But the chief ruled the conduct didn't warrant his termination and cited Findlay's significant contributions since joining the department in 1994.

Burbank resigned in June after clashing with Mayor Ralph Becker over the chief's handling of the sexual harassment claim. Burbank opted to step down after being told he would need to publicly read a prewritten apology for his handling of the harassment claim or be fired.

The mayor told a KSL Newsradio's "The Doug Wright Show" on Thursday that he regretted how he handled the entire situation as well as how it played out publicly.

In a statement Friday, Burbank questioned Becker's motivations.

"Ralph needs to be held accountable for how he treated me. And if this is not politically motivated, then what is Ralph Becker afraid of?" Burbank said.

He also reiterated why he resigned rather than read the apology.

"The written apology, crafted by the mayor's office, did not represent what I believed to be true or ethical, so I chose to retire," Burbank said.

City deputy chief of staff Nichol Bourdeaux declined to comment on pending litigation.

Findlay has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Most recent U.S. stories

Related topics

The Associated Press


    Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast