Suit: Kansas City, Kan., police cadet was fired after alleging sexual battery
Kansas City, Kan. — A Kansas police cadet was fired after pressing sexual battery charges against her supervisor, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The lawsuit contends the Kansas City, Kan., cadet delayed reporting the abuse for fear of retaliation and found that fear justified when Police Chief Terry Zeigler fired her for “exaggerated cause” following the criminal prosecution of the officer she accused of inappropriately touching her.
The Kansas City Star reports police officer Steven Rios was sentenced in December to a year of probation for misdemeanor battery of a young cadet who was under his supervision. Rios, a supervisor of cadet training and an instructor, was in a position that allowed him to influence whether cadets were admitted to the police academy.
“Sexual harassment does real damage to women,” the cadet’s lawyer, Tim Riemann, said in a statement. “It stands to reason that the damage is even greater when suffered by a teenager in one of her first professional settings.”
The cadet is suing the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., for sexual harassment and retaliation, and suing Rios for violation of her right to bodily integrity.
The Kansas City, Kan., Police Department said in a statement Thursday that it disputes the cadet’s allegations. The department said the reason for her departure is a personnel matter and declined to comment further.
Rios doesn’t have a listed phone number and has retired from the police department. His state police certification is in good standing despite his conviction, said Gary Steed, executive director of the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training.
The lawsuit alleges Rios spoke to the cadet using sexually charged language, asked invasive questions about her sexual preferences and history, and touched her in sexual and unwanted manners.
In March 2018, another officer saw Rios sexually assault the cadet, the lawsuit says. The cadet told that other officer she did not want to report Rios because she was afraid that she would be fired, according to the lawsuit.
The other officer, however, reported what he saw to his supervisors at the police department and they started an investigation.
The cadet met with police detectives and later Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree. She eventually agreed to participate in the investigation.
She was called into the police chief’s office in June 2018 to discuss her deficiencies as a cadet and was fired later that month.