Sexual Harassment and Police in Rhode Island

Monday, September 27, 2010


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Claims that a female police officer has sexually harassed her male counterparts in the Providence Police Department is hardly the first time that a local law enforcement agency has been rocked by sexual harassment allegations.

In 1988, a Rhode Island State Trooper Mary Nunes sued Colonel Walter Stone and other senior officers claiming that female recruits were the victims of “discrimination, harassment, and invasion of privacy,” according to a history of the State Police. Nunes claimed she had been forced to box a male recruit while one of her hands was in a cast and she said an academy commandant twisted one of her injured thumbs. She also said her locker had been searched and personal items left lying around the locker room.

The high-profile trial lasted several weeks and drew testimony from then-Attorney General Arlene Violet.

A federal jury found that Nunes had in fact been harassed and discriminated against, awarding her $125,004 in punitive and compensatory damages. The judge in the case, however, tossed out most of the verdicts, leaving just one verdict that found senior State Police officers had retaliated against Nunes for complaining.


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