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Detective files suit against PD, claims sexual harassment

Published On: Mar 07 2013 04:21:38 PM MST   Updated On: Mar 07 2013 04:22:13 PM MST

A Missoula detective is suing the police department after he says he was sexually harassed.

Detective Chris Shermer filed a complaint with the State Human Rights Bureau last year, but investigators tossed the case when they said there wasn't enough evidence. At that time Shermer had 90 days to file a civil suit, and that’s what he did Wednesday.

The suit alleges Lt. Sandy Kosena sexually harassed Shermer last April.

City Attorney Jim Nugent said he is surprised by the entire situation. But not as surprised by the law suit, since he saw the original complaint filed with the H.R. Bureau.

The public civil lawsuit claims Lt. Kosena grabbed Detective Shermer's buttock and whispered a sexual innuendo in his ear. The complaint says Shermer was embarrassed and angry.

It goes on to say Shermer reported the incident to the police department; Lt. Kosena admitted to it and was punished lightly.

But Nugent says the lawsuit only paints half the picture.

“We'll give a more complete picture of the factual circumstances as part of our public defense to this lawsuit. That will include the triggering event,” said Nugent.

Nugent said it started when Shermer flipped off the Kosena and another officer when he drove passed them.

“That's kind of what precipitated this, the female officer saw him flip them off,” said Nugent.

Nugent said Shermer claims he only flipped off the male officer. In the complaint Shermer also argues that if roles had been reversed he would have received harsh punishment.

The city hasn't been served with the suit just yet but Nugent said they're preparing to respond. “We will be responding to it and defending the city vigorously.”

NBC Montana reached out to Shermer’s attorney who said neither he nor Shermer plan to comment.

According to Nugent both Kosena and Shermer are still working at the police department.

To read the complaint click here.