Three current or former deputies for a constable’s office in Harris County have filed a lawsuit accusing their employer of sexual harassment and other serious workplace misconduct.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in a Houston federal court, the three women were all brought onto the force in order to help deter human trafficking. The women were involved in sting operations.
Reports are that the sting operations, which were designed to catch people engaged in sex trafficking, instead become a kind of ploy for other deputy constables, including supervisors, to engage in sexual harassment and abuse of the victims.
Specifically, the women were assigned to play the role of prostitutes during sting operations while male officers played the role of johns, men who hire prostitutes. The operations were funded with public dollars.
The role-playing allegedly crossed boundaries in profound ways. For example, the supervising officer would kiss and sexually touch his female subordinates after getting drunk.
Constable denies the allegations
For his part, the Constable of the Harris County precinct where the misconduct allegedly happened has denied all allegations. He pointed to the fact that none of the employees ever lodged an internal complaint about their treatment, even though they were given opportunities to do so.
Through their representative, the women countered that both the Constable and the local prosecutor’s office knew that they were being subjected to abuse in the course of sting operations and either ignored the problem or, worse, rebuked those who reported it.
The women are seeking damages, including actual expenses and non-economic damages like emotional distress. They have also requested punitive damages.