A 19-year-old young woman racks up $3,000 in unpaid Forest Park parking tickets. Somehow this leads her into an agreement with a Forest Park police officer to reduce the amount owed to $400. Directly, or indirectly, she was then offered the opportunity to work off the $400 twenty bucks at a time by taking part in alleged alcohol stings conducted by the department.
What could go wrong?
She worked with Det. Young Lee on the stings and one evening went along with him to a bar in Berwyn (Berwyn?) where there was obviously no sting, but instead the cop bought drinks for the minor and then either sexually assaulted her in her car or had consensual sex with her.
Jane Doe filed a complaint with the police department. The village investigated and determined that the married Lee had demonstrated conduct unbecoming a police officer for providing alcohol to a minor and having a sexual relationship with a department intern. He got a 30-day suspension.
The village gets credit for investigating and for concluding that their cop had acted like a scoundrel.
The story doesn’t end there, of course, as our front page story reports today the village and its insurance company agreed just before the case went to trial to settle Jane Doe’s rightful claim. The village (via its insurance carrier) will pay out $646,000. Lee, who was demoted to patrol officer, will ante up $4,000 from his family’s budget.
As happens when things move toward trial, the village worked various angles suggesting the young woman was not an employee, that the officer was off-duty. But the plain truth was determined simply in the initial village investigation. An adult officer had taken completely improper advantage of an underage intern and there can never be excuses made for such behavior.
And so the village paid plenty.
The village government and the police department will argue this was an isolated case, that the past history of sexual harassment within that department is well in the past. The department points to its record of intense officer training in sexual harassment protocol. We’re not sure where you draw a line between eras. We can only hope that beyond the professional training, that there is a clear sense of revulsion within the department that one of its own could act so badly toward this young woman.
This editorial was corrected to reflect that Lee was demoted to patrol officer following the police investigation.