A Lexington police sergeant has filed a lawsuit against the city accusing his supervisors of retaliating against him after he reported alleged sexual harassment by top Lexington police officers, according to court documents.
Sgt. Bryan Jared, who helped rescue the co-pilot from Comair Flight 5191 after the plane crashed and burned on takeoff from Blue Grass Airport in 2006,, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Fayette County Circuit Court, according to court documents.
The lawsuit names Mayor Jim Gray, Police Chief Mark Barnard and Lexington police commanders Jonathan “Rodney” Sherrod and Thomas Curtsinger as defendants. The lawsuit also alleges Lexington Police command staff routinely improperly handled or ignored sexual harassment allegations.
Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city of Lexington, said the city can not comment on pending lawsuits.
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In 2016, Jared learned that Sherrod had allegedly sexual harassed three female officers, according to court documents. Jared reported the matter to a lieutenant, who filed an official complaint with human resources, according to Jared’s lawsuit.
In November 2016, Jared was informed that the investigation had been closed, according to the court document.
Before reporting the alleged sexual harassment, no disciplinary actions had been entered in Jared’s personnel file in 17 years with the department, according to court records. Within four months of reporting it, Jared was disciplined three separate times and was involuntarily transferred to another sector — one that included the plane crash site. “All defendants knew the severe suffering this sector change would cause Sergeant Jared,” the lawsuit states.
When Jared complained, Curtsinger ignored his request to be transferred out of that sector, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also alleges that sexual harassment by male officers in the police department is “ignored, covered up and/or improperly handled by LPD commanding staff, including defendant Chief Barnard. Sgt. Jared heard accounts about how female officers were allegedly treated unfairly or inappropriately.”
Straub said the city couldn’t comment on the allegation that sexual harassment complaints within the department are routinely ignored.
Scott Crosbie, Jared’s attorney, said Jared has been a model police officer. The lawsuit refers to several awards Jared has received in his 17 years with the department.
“Sgt. Jared is one of the most decorated and community-minded police officers in the history of the Lexington Police Department,” Crosbie said. “And for doing the right thing, he suffered reprisal as a result.”
Crosbie said as far as the allegation that the Lexington Police Department routinely covers up sexual harassment allegations: “I can’t speak to that specifically. As we progress in discovery, those facts will come to light.”
In a separate lawsuit filed March 23 against the city, Crosbie alleged that the city improperly withheld documents regarding sexual harassment allegations against Sherrod and others at the police department. Crosbie had asked for the documents under the state’s Open Records Act, which says what documents governments can release to the public. Crosbie alleges in the lawsuit that the city improperly denied, was late and used insufficient explanations for the denials of those requests.
Crosbie wants a judge to order the police department to produce the documents he requested. He also is asking a judge to fine the police department $25 a day for every day it failed to comply with his requests.
First to arrive at the plane crash, Jared and airport police officers James Maupin and Jon Sallee rushed to help the plane’s lone survivor, co-pilot James Polehinke, as the back of the plane burned.