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Misconduct lawsuit against Douglas County sheriff advances

December 31, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge in Nebraska cited 15 sexual misconduct cases involving deputies or other employees in refusing to dismiss a woman’s lawsuit against the Douglas County sheriff and his office over how they handled her misconduct complaint.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon said the cases date back 20 years and raise concerns that Sheriff Tim Dunning and his office failed “to train or supervise its employees on sexual misconduct, The Omaha World Herald reported .

“The court agrees with the plaintiff that there is sufficient evidence as a matter of law that would enable a jury to find deliberate indifference on the part of Sheriff Dunning,” Bataillon said.

Douglas County attorneys have appealed Bataillon’s decision.

The woman alleged Dunning was indifferent to sexual misconduct in his office after Deputy Cory Cooper in February 2013 made her perform a sex act on him when she was 19.

The woman reported the incident to police a few days later but the sheriff’s office didn’t immediately begin its investigation, which allowed Cooper to continue acting inappropriately, said Debra Loevy, the woman’s attorney. Cooper wasn’t fired until May 2013 following another report of his behavior, Loevy said.

Dunning told the newspaper he wasn’t indifferent toward misconduct, noting that suspensions or terminations occurred when a case was corroborated. He said all county employees are trained on sexual harassment.

Dunning added that Cooper wasn’t involved in any previous cases, so there was no indication that he could be an issue.

“Cooper did what he did because he’s a sex offender and a criminal,” Dunning said. “Before we hired him, he had a psychological screen. He was polygraphed. As far as we could tell, he was going to be a sterling employee.”

Cooper was sentenced to misdemeanor assault in 2015 and served six months in jail. As part of a plea bargain, Cooper didn’t have to register as a sex offender and isn’t a convicted felon.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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