Former police officer talks about being sexually harassed by training officer
NEW BERN, Craven County - In North Carolina, every year new law enforcement officers take the solemn oath.
"On my honor. I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions."
Accountability is an obligation to accept responsibility for one's actions. It's just one of the 45 words an officer must pledge before he or she walks the Thin Blue Line.
"If you have not been in those shoes, you don't know how powerful you are pushed to remain silent," the former officer said (we're not naming her or showing her face to protect her identity).
In her case, silent about sexual harassment, even sexual assault from another officer.
"He would send me pictures, text messages, he's sitting beside me in the patrol car," she said.
For 12 years, she remained silent.
"It was kept in house and it was mortifying," she said.
She said voicing her experience was a way to let people know it's not just Hollywood that's seeing this going on. It's your everyday life.
"Absolutely, and I can look you in the face and say it happened to me," she said. "If you know my personality, you know that I'm just not a woman that is likely to put up with this stuff. It happened and I put up with it."
Attorney Charles Cushman said he gets a handful of workplace sexual harassment cases each year.
"We certainly think it's happening much more than people are coming forward," Cushman said.
Cushman said if someone feels like they've been victimized in the workplace, it is hard to actually prove they've been sexually harassed.
"I mean it's difficult," Cushman said. "A lot of times it comes down to a he said, she said. That's why we would recommend to keep contemporaneous records, a journal of what's going on, make their complaints known to co-workers or supervisors right away."
"I'm disappointed that I didn't speak up," the victim in this story said. "I regret it. I hope more people start to speak up."
Sometimes speaking up takes courage. No matter what career you're in, we're all accountable for our actions.
The victim said an Internal Affairs investigation took place at her department once word spread of the sexual harassment. She said the officer quit in lieu of being fired. He remained in law enforcement and worked at two neighboring police departments.