Bisexual Officer Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Town Of Greenburgh, Members Of Police Department
GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Westchester County police officer says she was harassed for being openly bisexual.
The 29-year-old alleges in a federal lawsuit that harassment within the Greenburgh Police Department got so bad, she had to take a medical leave months later. She told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner she’s facing retaliation.
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As the daughter of NYPD officers, Kristin Stein dreamed of becoming a cop in her hometown.
In 2017, Stein says she was the first and only open LGBTQ officer to join the Greenburgh police, but she didn’t volunteer that information.
“A lot of people were inquiring about if I was dating someone or not, and I was trying to be evasive,” Stein said. “It’s still a male-dominated profession. I was afraid of them sexualizing everything I do.”
But that’s what happened, Stein says in a federal discrimination lawsuit filed against the town and more than a dozen members of the police department. She alleges her field training officer asked about her sex life and alleges that she was also targeted by Officer Jeff Cerone.
“Anytime I would pat down a female for safety purposes, he would ask me if I liked it,” Stein said.
She also alleges Cerone sexually assaulted her during a 2019 roll call partially caught on body camera. Stein said she was signing out parking ticket books when Cerone came up from behind.
“I feel someone thrusting their groin area into my rear end while also grabbing my shoulders,” Stein said, adding colleagues laughed.
The lawsuit alleges it led her to suffer from panic attacks and gastrointestinal issues. She took a medical leave in July, but her workers’ compensation was denied.
Stein is challenging the denial in a new lawsuit filed against the town and former police Chief Chris McNerney. Stein’s doctors cite trauma from the 2019 incident, but McNerney said her injury was not work related.
As for Cerone, Stein says he was docked vacation time and written up for treating a co-worker unfairly. Cerone and his lawyer did not respond to CBS2’s requests for comment.
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Stein said it was an open secret that officers’ actions, no matter how inappropriate, would not be met with severe consequences.
Officer David Wagman retired in 2018, because of what he says was a toxic culture created under chief McNerney.
“The morale in Chris’ tenure went downhill steadily,” Wagman said.
McNerney didn’t respond to CBS2’s request for comment on Wagman’s claims, but in 2018 McNerney denied Wagman’s requests for off-duty employment, saying allowing it would be contrary to Wagman’s welfare and the interests of the department.
In her lawsuit, Stein claims there was retaliation for filing a discrimination complaint.
“I got written up for using the bathroom when I was on my menstrual cycle. People started either not showing up to help me or delaying their response time,” Stein said. “I would do anything to stay being a police officer, but the retaliation has been so severe that I had to choose to either hand in my gun or contemplate using it on myself.”
Stein’s initial lawsuit also said the Westchester County Police rescinded an offer, alleging McNerney told the county she was “a sexual harassment liability,” which he denies doing.
“It’s heartbreaking to my family, and I am so devastated with how they’ve treated me,” Stein said.
An attorney for the town of Greenbugh said, in part, it “does not engage in, tolerate or condone harassment, discrimination or retaliation in the workplace,” adding it denies all claims by Stein but can’t comment due to pending litigation.
McNerney is now the head of the Larchmont Police Department. He and the officers named in the lawsuit did not get back to CBS2 with a request for comment. In court papers, their lawyers deny all allegations.
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The Westchester County district attorney who recently interviewed Stein declined to comment on whether the office is investigating.
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