Woman sues town of Smithfield over sexual assault claim
Posted July 11, 2012
Updated July 12, 2012
Smithfield, N.C. — A woman who claims she was sexually assaulted by a Smithfield police officer has filed a lawsuit against the town.
The lawsuit, which was filed last month in Superior Court, alleges the off-duty officer was drinking at a bar when he approached the woman, who was a bar employee, and said he wanted her help exposing problems at the bar.
The woman agreed to help and stayed to play pool with the officer and other patrons after her shift ended, according to court documents. The woman said the officer asked her for a ride home, and she agreed “thinking that since he was a police officer and he was married, she would be safe and there was nothing to worry about.”
The woman said she briefly went into the officer’s house to see his dogs, and that he became enraged when she tried to leave. That’s when she said the officer began sexually assaulting her.
The attack continued for a short time until a friend of the officer pulled into the driveway to pick him up for a hunting trip, she said in court documents.
The woman said she reported the incident to the Smithfield Police Department, but officials did not discipline the officer after interviewing her. The woman claims the officer continues to harass her.
The lawsuit claims the town was negligent for continuing to employ the officer. The plaintiff is seeking $40,000 in damages and court fees.
Town officials issued a statement Thursday morning disavowing any connection to the allegations.
"The allegations concern activities that occurred, if they occurred at all, outside of (the officer's) former employment with the town and were not connected to the town in any manner," the statement said. "The town has cooperated in every respect with the alleged victim and will continue to do so. If the town remains a party to this action, it will vigorously defend the action and the allegations made against the town."