Three female detectives in King County, Washington, are suing the county after alleging they were sexually harassed and bullied by two male sergeants. All of the officers were part of the Special Assault Unit, which is tasked with handling crimes of sexual violence.
What the male sergeants reportedly did to the female detectives is bad enough:
[The suit] alleges that [Sgt. Anthony Provenzo] routinely boasted about his sexual prowess and the size of his penis, and at one point strapped a fake phallus to his ankle in the office so it protruded from the bottom of his trousers.But their victimization reportedly extended to the very survivors of sexual violence they were supposed to be helping:
It alleges that the sergeants would routinely ridicule the female detectives over the sizes of their breasts and buttocks. He referred to one female detective as "Malibu Barbie" or "Vegas Barbie."
Sometimes, the complaint says, visitors to the SAU were sent by the sergeants to look at one of the female detective's breasts while she sat at her desk.
The lawsuit also alleges the sergeants mocked the statements of sexual-assault victims — sometimes asking the female detective to read salacious parts over slowly "so I can close my eyes."Native American women have the highest rates of sexual violence of any population in the US. Of women who identify as Native American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, or Indigenous American (which is not a comprehensive list of identities for members of the United States' more than 500 tribes), one in three will be raped in her lifetime. [Relevant factsheet. (pdf)] It is breathtaking, if grimly unsurprising, that members of law enforcement tasked with justice would use the proliferation of rape as a justification for inaction and indifference.
...Provenzo also allegedly told one of the female detectives "not to fully investigate rape or sexual-assault cases that occurred on the Muckleshoot Indian reservation, because rape happens on the reservations 'all the time,'" the lawsuit alleges.
My heart, it never stops breaking.
The lawsuit alleges Provenzo brought photographs of bikini-clad teenage girls into the SAU and made "sexual comments" about them.Which, depending on the age of the girls and the context of the photos, could constitute an act of sexual assault.
So here we have in the unit tasked with responding to crimes of sexual violence two male officers who sexually harass their female colleagues, practice and encourage indifference to the community most in need of their help, and possibly committing acts of sexual assault right in the workplace.
And then rape apologists wonder why at least half of rapes go unreported.
[H/T to Shaker Kathryn.]