Hammond Police Officer Who Lost Sexual Harassment Suit Must Pay $8K To City, Ex-Cop She Sued

HAMMOND, IN — A federal judge is ordering a Hammond police officer who lost a sexual harassment suit to pay more than $8,100 to the City of Hammond and the former city police officer she accused.

U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon ruled Friday against Hammond Police Lt. Denise Szany for the second time in several months.

Christopher Cooper, a Chicago lawyer representing Szany, asked Judge Simon to reduce or eliminate having to reimburse defense costs incurred by lawyers for the Hammond Police Department and former officer Jamie Garcia over the past three years of sexual harassment litigation.

Simon reduced Hammond’s cost claims by $294, but upheld the remainder of Hammond and Garcia’s costs.

Szany, a 14-year veteran of the Hammond police force, filed suit three years ago over an incident between her and Garcia, who was a 12-year veteran of the department until his departure last year.

She claimed she was preparing to start her work shift Oct. 19, 2016, when Garcia slapped her on the buttocks with his open hand.

Garcia maintained the incident was just innocent “horseplay.”

Police department supervisors found Garcia violated department rules of professional conduct and suspended him for five days without pay.

Szany sought monetary damages against Garcia and the police department, which she claimed had fostered a hostile workplace environment for her.

Judge Simon ruled in late May that the City of Hammond didn’t violate her civil rights and Szany must sue Garcia in a state court, not a federal venue.

Her attorney is appealing the judge’s dismissal of her federal suit to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which has yet to rule on the case.

He also has filed a new suit last June against Garcia and the City of Hammond. That state court matter is now pending in the Lake Superior Court, Civil Division in Crown Point.

Garcia resigned from the force last year following complaints from two young women that he spoke inappropriately about sex and inappropriately touched them during a police ride-along.

From NWITimes.com