Female cop sues SFPD over harassment

May 12, 2010 7:11:41 PM PDT
A female police officer is suing the San Francisco Police Department and four sergeants, claiming that she was harassed and defamed because of her sexual orientation.

Officer Lori Dutra says Sgt. Marta McDowell, retired Sgt. Kimberly Reynolds, Sgt. Lynn Reilly and retired Sgt. Carri Lucas tried to derail her career by writing "malicious" memoranda about her and sending it up the police chain of command.

Dutra, who says she is straight, says the harassment started when Reynolds, Reilly and McDowell, who are openly lesbians, and Lucas found out that she was pregnant and was going to marry the father.

Dutra admitted dating both men and women in the past and says she was a member of the gay-lesbian Police Pride Alliance.

She said in a court brief that the group "retaliated" against her and drafted memos that impugned her character, by questioning her mental and emotional ability to work as a police officer. The memos, Dutra says, also accused her of addiction and gambling problems.

City Attorney Lisa Berkowitz says the defendants drew up the memos out of concern for Dutra's safety and those of others. She adds, "they thought it was serious enough that they felt they had to act."

Dutra was temporarily re-assigned to the Behavioral Sciences Unit on Treasure Island. She was also ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination, which she passed.

Tuesday, the judge threw out two of the four allegations in the suit dealing with discrimination based on sexual orientation and harassment. Judge Wallace Douglas ordered the trial to continue on the remaining charges of defamation and intentional affliction of emotional distress.

Retired lieutenant Jill Brophy is a friend of all four defendants and once was Dutra's supervisor. She says lesbians know what discrimination is like.

"So for somebody to turn around and say that they would even think about discriminating against someone else, it's kind of a hard pill to swallow," she said.

Dutra is out on maternity leave. The trial is expected to continue into next week.


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