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A Texas Constable’s office has been accused by several female deputies who worked undercover of “appalling” sexual misconduct—carried out in some cases by their superiors—during alcohol-fueled “bachelor party sting” operations ostensibly aimed at fighting sex trafficking, according to a new lawsuit filed in federal court.
The undercover missions were allegedly designed to nab sex workers in the hopes that they’d be willing to cooperate by revealing higher-ranking players in sex-trafficking rings, but according to attorney Cordt Akers, who represents several of the female deputies involved in the lawsuit, these “bachelor party” style stings devolved into a “booze-filled environment” where female deputies were sexually molested, fondled and kissed by their male colleagues.
“These women, these brave women were ordered, ordered by their commanding officer that your job in my unit, in an undercover capacity, is to dress in scandalous clothes, to allow me to kiss you, to allow me to fondle you, essentially, to be molested by their commanding officer. That is exactly what happened,” Akers said during a press conference Monday streamed by local station KPRC “As these operations went on, the focus went more on that and less on the victims they were trying to save.”
The federal lawsuit names Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Alan Rosen, Assistant Chief Chris Gore and Lt. Shane Rigdon as having orchestrated or condoned the sting operations that put female deputies with little or no training in undercover work in an environment that placed them in “extreme danger,” Akers said.
Rosen said in a statement in response to the lawsuit that he has a “zero-tolerance stance against sexual assault and sexual harassment and would never allow a hostile work environment as alleged.”
He added that an internal investigation into the concerns had concluded that there were “no violations of law or policy found.”
“When we were made aware of a concern by a third party several months ago, I proactively instructed our Internal Affairs Division to conduct an investigation,” he said. “We did this even though no one made a formal complaint. This is consistent with our ongoing commitment to protecting victims and our personnel. My sensitivity toward victims remains our highest priority. To this day, not one of these plaintiffs has ever made a formal complaint. Each employee interviewed was given the opportunity, in a safe environment, to express any concerns. Their own interview statements contradict many of the allegations in the lawsuit.”
Rosen said he hoped the justice system would prevail and the truth would come out.
Yet Akers claimed that Rosen had been present during one of the sting operations and called the notion that the operations didn’t occur without his approval “absolutely fanciful.”
Akers told Oxygen.com he believed that Rosen’s statement about the alleged incidents was “damning” because it didn’t deny the existence of the sting operations.
“If that’s the policy at precinct one to put these deputies through this, than that just shows how much the precinct needs to change,” he said.
During the sting operations, Ackers said undercover male deputies would pose as the johns or buyers at area hotels while undercover females posed as prostitutes.
“The idea being that when the actual sex worker came in, they would be more likely to agree to sex for a fee, an arrest could be made, interviews could be done and arrests up the chain could be made,” he said.
But according to the federal lawsuit, obtained by Oxygen.com, the operations quickly got out of hand and turned into parties where officers were drinking heavily and female officers were ordered to give their supervisors lap dances or were touched in unwanted ways.
“Constable Rosen essentially ran, oversaw and approved an ongoing free for all in which senior deputies, senior male deputies, were given carte blanche to use young, female deputies for their own sexual pleasure in these operations without fear of repercussions,” Akers said at Monday’s press conference.
During one instance, attorney Brock Akers said one of the female deputies was “thrown as a lamb into a slaughter into a sexual assault of her own” after she was ordered by her superiors to go to a massage parlor “for the purpose of being sexually assaulted.”
The female deputy was allegedly told that she had to be sexually assaulted by a suspect at the massage parlor before an arrest could be made, according to the lawsuit.
Jacquelyn Aluotto, one of the women who filed the lawsuit, said she had been hired by the county to serve as a victims’ advocate to combat sexual trafficking. When she learned of what was happening to the female deputies, she complained to the constable’s office and the district attorney, but just one day after speaking with internal affairs, Cordt Akers said her hours with the county were cut to zero and she was essentially fired.
Aluotto addressed the media at the press conference on Monday to say that she had already gotten phone calls from people warning that the women’s careers would be “ruined in retaliation” if they pursued the lawsuit.
“We will not be silent, we will continue to advocate and we will fight for our rights and the rights of others,” she said.
Dane Schiller, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told The Associated Press that an investigation had been conducted by constable’s internal affairs division.
“In this matter, our sex crimes division quickly asked Constable Pct. 1 Internal Affairs to investigate whether there was evidence of a crime and Ms. Aluotto has represented she contacted the Texas Rangers. Nothing has been presented to prosecutors from either agency,” Schiller said.
Oxygen.com reached out to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office but did not receive an immediate response.
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