Several female correctional officers in Chicago are suing their sheriff’s office over allegedly not doing enough to prevent inmates from sexual harassing them — and their lawsuit comes just days after a number of public defenders in the area made similar allegations.
The correctional officers claim inmates at the Cook County jail have groped them, “brazenly” masturbated in front of them and hurled sexually charged insults and threats. The inmates have allegedly also “aimed ejaculations” at the officers and groped them, according to the proposed class-action lawsuit, which was filed on Friday and first reported by the Chicago Tribune.
The work environment is “so consistently traumatizing” that the jail has become “an objectively abusive and hostile workplace for women,” according to the suit.
Spokeswoman Cara Smith said the sheriff’s office will defend itself against the lawsuit, but conceded that the allegations rang at least partially true.
Staff-on-inmate sex abuse allegations at city jails surge
“Sexual misconduct, masturbation and indecent exposure is unfortunately a conduct that occurs in custodial environments,” Smith told the Daily News. “It’s not something that’s new. We work consistently to try to address this behavior.”
Earlier this week, a group of female public defenders in Cook County filed a lawsuit making nearly identical allegations. The defenders claim inmates at the county jail have masturbated in front of them and made sexually-charged threats while in courtroom lockups. They also charge that their boss, Amy Campanelli, and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart have allowed the “toxic” work environment to persist.
Both lawsuits seek monetary damages and a court order that would force Sheriff Dart to work actively towards quelling the harassment.
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