On Monday, four women filed a federal lawsuit alleging that three senior police officers with the Harris County Constable Precinct 1 repeatedly used fake “bachelor party” stings to sexually assault and harass their female colleagues, reports The Washington Post.
The suit, which was filed against Harris County Constable Alan Rosen, Assistant Chief Chris Gore, and Lt. Shane Rigdon, accuses the officers of picking young Latina women with no undercover training to wear revealing clothes and pose as sex workers while in the company of their intoxicated male supervisors. The stated purpose of these fake bachelor parties was to attract trafficked sex workers in order to lead law enforcement to their bosses, but in actuality, the stings were an opportunity for male officers to molest and sexually harass the undercover female officers.
When Gore first recruited one of the female officers involved in the lawsuit for undercover work, he ordered her to buy revealing new clothes for the sting. After being told to send photos of herself modeling the clothes, the officer says she was told by Gore that one outfit was “not provocative enough.” He then allegedly forced her to go with him to a sex shop in order to “pick out some props” and “work on [his] chemistry with her.” At the parties, the officer said she was repeatedly touched and kissed without her permission, and that Gore, while drunk and wearing only boxers, would lie on top of the women while non-consensually touching their bodies.
The second female officer in the lawsuit who was also recruited to work undercover at the fake parties said that she was asked to perform lap dances for her male supervisors. The third female officer in the lawsuit also worked at the parties, but her worst experience with the officers was when Rosen allegedly ordered her to go undercover at a massage business suspected of sexually assaulting their clients and, according to the lawsuit, told her to “wait to be sexually assaulted to give the raid signal.” She says she was raped while at the establishment.
When the female officers asked to be removed from the undercover team or reported the sexual harassment and assault, they were ridiculed, shamed, and often demoted. The fourth woman on the lawsuit was a human trafficking advocate who, after reporting the alleged abuse the female officers were being subjected to, was allegedly transferred out of the unit and eventually fired.
In conversations about policing, policymakers on both sides of the aisle tend to frame law enforcement as the best solution to sexual violence—however, evidence shows that not only are police departments often willfully ineffective at investigating incidents of sexual violence, but police officers will also use their power and authority to commit sexual assault. Data from the National Center for Women and Policing shows that domestic violence is “two to four times more common” in police families than in U.S. families more generally.
Harris County Constable Alan Rosen denied the women’s allegations, claiming that an internal investigation he ordered several months ago concluded that no policies or laws were violated at the undercover parties. Because there’s no way that an internal police department investigation of its own officers’ alleged misconduct could be anything but 100% unbiased and accurate, right?