City reaches settlement with former LPD officer claiming to be sexually assaulted

The former officer, Sarah Williams, says LPD was aware that her and two other female officers were assaulted since Dec. 7, 2017. However, no action was taken. 

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The city of Lincoln has reached a settlement agreement with a former Lincoln police officer who claims she and several other female officers were sexually assaulted by male officers within LPD.

The former officer, Sarah Williams, says LPD was aware that her and two other female officers were assaulted since Dec. 7, 2017. However, no action was taken.

“There were days I didn’t want to be alive,” Williams told the Lincoln city council on Monday. “So I quit. I quit because I didn’t feel I had a choice. I feared for my safety, I didn’t trust my coworkers.”

The exact amount of the settlement between the council and Williams was not revealed. Williams also said the lack of response from LPD leadership caused her to have mental health issues. She ended up quitting the department.

The city attorney, Yohance Christie, hopes Williams’ complaints won’t be ignored in the future by placcing the process “solely within the Human Resources Department.” Previously, such complaints were taken directly to the law department.

“The new process will provide for a thorough examination of all the issues and removes any possibility of a conflict of interest,” Christie said in a statement on Monday.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird also supports any victims willing to come forward.

“My administration is committed to responding to allegations of any wrongdoing within our organization, while ensuring that all employees are held accountable for their job performance,” the mayor said. “Complaints are taken seriously not only because it is the right thing to do, but because we value having a team that is operating cohesively and effectively to serve our community.”

Current Lincoln police chief Teresa Ewins also releasing a lengthy statement on Monday. However, it’s worth noting, Ewins was sworn in as chief at the end of August. Before her, Jeff Bliemeister served as police chief from 2016-2020. Jim Peschong served before Bliemeister from 2011-2016.

Ewins statement reads, “The City of Lincoln and LPD do not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. We have strong anti-discrimination policies and have made extensive efforts to foster an inclusive and safe workplace. We take all complaints, external or internal, seriously.   

“LPD has a multi-layered process for examining complaints of harassment or discrimination with either internal resources or external referrals available dependent on the employee’s preference. The employee can select the primary investigating authority to include the LPD  Equal Opportunity Officer, the City Equal Opportunity Officer, the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission, or the Federal Equal Opportunity Commission. All complaints and allegations are examined and investigated if appropriate, and the proper action taken if violations of our policies, procedures, or the law are found.   

“We want to be as transparent as possible in these processes, while recognizing that we owe an obligation to our employees to keep their complaints confidential. It is each employee’s right to initiate a public lawsuit and until such time, the City will not disclose any details about the specific allegations or who has lodged them. As a City, we have promptly investigated each complaint and taken appropriate action. 

“The City of Lincoln and LPD are equal opportunity employers.  We continuously work toward creating an environment where all of our employees feel safe. We seek to provide a positive workplace environment for all employees. Any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect. ” 

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