Jul 28, 2014

Lawsuit: Woman Accuses Darien Police Chief of Sexual Assault, Retaliation

In her lawsuit against the city of Chicago, Centeria Moore-Powell accuses Ernest Brown of discriminating against her. Brown was her supervisor in 2005 when they worked for the Chicago Police Department.

Lawsuit: Woman Accuses Darien Police Chief of Sexual Assault, Retaliation

A Cook County woman has accused the Darien police chief of sexually assaulting and harassing her when he was a Chicago Police Department commander, according to a lawsuit filed this summer.

Ernest Brown was named in Centeria Moore-Powell's lawsuit against the city of Chicago for sex discrimination and retaliation. She claims Brown, her former supervisor, sexually assaulted, harassed and reassigned her to another district because she is a female, according to the lawsuit.

Moore-Powell also accuses the city of failing to investigate and take remedial action on her complaints about Brown because she is a female.

Moore-Powell seeks damages in excess of $300,000, in addition to compensatory damages, back pay, loss of earnings and benefits and attorney’s fees and costs of the lawsuit, according to the written complaint filed June 13.

Brown refused to respond on July 25 to the allegations described in the lawsuit when a Patch editor told him about it by phone. When Brown said he hadn't seen the complaint, a copy was offered to him.

"If there's pending litigation involving the city of Chicago, I wouldn't be comfortable making a comment on it," he said.

Brown in September 2011  denied that he was ever the subject of a sexual harassment complaint when he was on the Chicago force, saying "It is not in my moral fiber." Brown also addressed two unrelated lawsuits at the same 2011 Darien City Council meeting prior to his appointment as police chief.

Moore-Powell was promoted to Chicago Police sergeant in 2000 after 15 years with the force. She was regularly assigned the third-watch shift and in March of 2005 complained to Brown’s superiors that he had sexually assaulted, harassed and subjected her to retaliatory actions, according to the complaint. She issued the same complaints in September and October of 2005.

The lawsuit said on April 1, 2005, the city of Chicago had Moore-Powell submit to a psychological evaluation and placed her on an involuntary unpaid medical leave. Then on Jan. 17, 2006, Brown told Moore-Powell that she would be transferred to another district against her request and work the midnight shift when she returned.

In the lawsuit, Moore-Powell said the retaliation she experienced is in violation of  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Prior to the lawsuit, Moore-Powell said she filed sex discrimination and retaliation charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The complaint did not include further details on Moore-Powell’s allegations. Her attorney, Denise M. Mercherson, did not return a call July 25 seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The initial court date for this case is set for Aug. 13 in Chicago, according to federal court records.

View and download the full complaint as a PDF on this page above the start of the story.

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