Updated June 29, 4:00 p.m.

The federal sexual assault lawsuit filed by a female former police department intern against a Forest Park police detective and the Village of Forest Park may go to trial by fall, said Elizabeth Wang, lawyer for plaintiff “Jane Doe.”

The case is finishing its discovery phase, said Wang. On June 25 Mayor Anthony Calderone was deposed by lawyers for Wang’s firm Loevy and Loevy. Others at village hall who have also been deposed are Police Chief James Ryan and Village Attorney Julie A. Bruch.

New facts emerged in the amended complaint filed by Wang in February and the village’s response in March.

Doe, who was 19 at the time, accused Detective Young Lee of accompanying her to a pub in Berwyn as part of an “alcohol sting” on March 30, 2011. Doe alleges Lee bought her two drinks and then sexually assaulted her in her car. Doe alleges she woke up the next morning in her apartment building’s laundry room. Doe filed a complaint against Lee on April 7, 2011.

The new complaint also alleges that Doe was told that she could not participate in alcohol stings unless she was paid, and that her supervisor Lt. Steven Weiler offered to pay her the equivalent of $20 per hour by reducing or resolving Doe’s outstanding Forest Park parking tickets and that her wages would be paid directly toward her outstanding tickets. The village denied this allegation.

Lawyers for Doe alleged in the new complaint that as an intern, Doe was discriminated against as an employee and that the village created a hostile work environment that was severe and pervasive.  The new complaint also alleges that Lee violated the Illinois Gender Violence Act while on-duty for the Village of Forest Park, and accuses Lee of assault and battery under state law. The village denies both of these claims.

The village’s new response acknowledges that sexual contact occurred between Doe and Lee, but asserts that it was consensual and outside the scope of Lee’s duties as a police officer. The village said Lee was disciplined for “improper conduct” and that an independent investigator hired by the village found allegations of sexual assault were unfounded.

The investigator was retired Illinois State Police Lt. Col. Robert T. Johnson, who works as an expert witness and litigation consultant for Americans for Effective Law Enforcement (AELE). Johnson had worked for the village on previously on an independent investigation, said Bruch, “and the employee in question was terminated.” Bruch said she couldn’t give any further details about specifics of that case.

“We were confident he would leave no stone unturned and try to get to the bottom of the allegations.”

In deposition testimony submitted to the court, Doe said she accompanied Lee to a restaurant the day following the alleged event and that she attended a police outing to the shooting range with a group of officers, including Lee after the incident but before filing her complaint.

She also said in her deposition that she believed she had been drugged because she woke up in the passenger seat of her car and remembered Lee “on top of her.” She said in the deposition that she had been menstruating the day of the alleged assault and that she discovered several blood splatters the following day on the upholstery of her vehicle.

Doe’s new complaint also says the Village of Forest Park Police Department “directly encourages the very type of misconduct at issue here, by failing to adequately train, supervise and control its officers. … leading Forest Park police officers to believe their actions will never be scrutinized and directly encouraging future abuses.”

The village provided the court with a list of sexual harassment seminars in 2009 and 2010 that officers had attended. They were presented by Bruch, the village attorney.

“You can sit in a seminar all day but that doesn’t mean you’re holding officers accountable for what they’re learning from it,” said Wang.

“To the extent that the misconduct continues to happen, the officers are not getting the message,” Wang said. “When you have a department that implicitly tolerates this kind of conduct it implies that it’s acceptable or tolerated. That encourages further abuses.” 

But Bruch, who presented the police department sexual harassment training disagrees.

“Forest Park is by far one of the most proactive in seeking out training for their employees,” she said. Bruch said she works with more than 200 municipal organizations and private companies. “Prior to this lawsuit I personally gave two seminars to every one of their officers on sexual harassment, and not just the officers, the staff too — from top to bottom and it’s mandatory.”

Bruch continued, “In the training we provide an avenue for employees who feel that they have been sexually harassed. When people have had those concerns they have been brought to attention of officials in village. And when warranted, employees have been disciplined,” she said.

Doe’s lawyers presented evidence of six different sexual assault and sexual harassment cases by and among members of the Forest Park Police Department since 2007. Wang said the department policy, confirmed by Police Chief James Ryan in deposition, was to discipline officers confidentially without telling the rest of the department.

“To the extent that the misconduct continues to happen, the officers are not getting the message,” Wang said. “When you have a department that implicitly tolerates this kind of conduct it implies that it’s acceptable or tolerated. That encourages further abuses.” 

Bruch also disagrees with that assertion.

“The village doesn’t publically disclose the punishment of officers and I don’t know of any business that holds up employees for shame and ridicule. The goal is to change behavior, not humiliate an employee.”

“Employees talk. Even though management might not disclose if someone has been suspended or placed on leave, employees will notice on the roll call sheet of who’s working that day,” she said.

“When you have a strong police chief like they do in Forest Park it sends a message that this type of behavior is not acceptable and employees get the message. If they don’t, they’re disciplined.”

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...