N.J. State trooper accuses superior officer of sexually assaulting, impregnating her
December 02, 2009, 6:53PM
TRENTON -- A New Jersey state trooper has filed a federal civil lawsuit saying she was sexually assaulted and impregnated by a superior officer.
Trooper Alexis Hayes accused Lt. Thomas King, a 26-year veteran, of getting her drunk, obtaining a key to her hotel room, assaulting her and leaving her pregnant while they were on assignment in April with other troopers in Pittsburgh.
Read a copy of the lawsuit
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Camden, alleges "repeated acts of sexual misconduct" that started four years ago, when Hayes was an academy recruit.
None of the charges was properly examined during internal investigations, according to the lawsuit. At one point, a lieutenant colonel allegedly told Hayes, 29, to "bear up with the imperfect conditions" and "go about her duties."
In a statement, State Police spokesman Capt. Gerald Lewis said the division "treats any allegation of misconduct very seriously. As with all allegations of misconduct, these allegations will be vigorously and thoroughly investigated."
Lewis said King is on administrative leave with pay.
Hayes has been on paid sick leave since August after suffering a nervous breakdown, said her lawyer, William Buckman.
The seven-count lawsuit asks for a trial by jury and an independent monitor to oversee the State Police’s internal affairs unit.
"Its internal affairs mechanisms are not impartial and not up to the task to objectively look at the problems," Buckman said. "There’s still some very disturbing cultural aspects."
The attorney, who has filed numerous discrimination lawsuits against the State Police in the last decade, said young, female troopers like Hayes remain vulnerable and victimized within the agency.
"The apparent prevalence of sexual harassment in the organization has not abated," he said. "Hayes happens to just be one of the people who came forward because she couldn’t hold it in anymore."
Hayes graduated from the State Police academy in 2005. During her time there, she allegedly was harassed by Sgt. Christine Shallcross, an instructor and a 14-year veteran, according to the lawsuit.
Shallcross, 43, demeaned Hayes as a "peanut," drew on her face with a black permanent marker and "stabbed" another female trooper with the marker, "leaving a bruise," according to the lawsuit.
After Hayes graduated, Shallcross, allegedly made advances by whispering in her ear and kissing her on the cheek, the suit contends. Hayes’ lawsuit also says that despite being reported for disciplinary action, Shallcross was transferred into the internal affairs division.
"That speaks to an internal affairs operation that doesn’t really seem to want to screen people to make sure they’re objective," Buckman said.
Hayes eventually joined a tactical patrol unit that handles traffic enforcement. According to the lawsuit, King, then an acting captain and Hayes’ superior officer, "bombarded" her with messages and unannounced visits to her home.
In April, Hayes joined a 49-member detail sent to Pittsburgh to honor three city police officers killed in a shootout. One night during the trip, King, 49, ensured Hayes was drunk, then entered her hotel room and assaulted her, according to the lawsuit.
Buckman said there is a criminal investigation into the alleged sexual assault by Pennsylvania law enforcement. Officials from the Allegheny County Police Department could not be reached for comment.
Hayes became pregnant but had an abortion, according to the lawsuit. Despite her moral opposition to the practice, "she could not bear the thought of having a child by King," the lawsuit reads. Buckman said Hayes knows the child was King’s because she was having only protected sex with her husband.
On two other occasions after the alleged sexual assault, King made sexual advances on Hayes, despite her pleas for him to leave her alone, according to the lawsuit.
When Hayes discussed her trauma with the State Police’s employee-assistance program, an official in that program breached confidentiality by telling a lieutenant colonel about her allegations, according to the lawsuit.
The unnamed lieutenant colonel -- the division’s second-highest rank -- allegedly told her to "bear up."
In addition to seeking a trial, Hayes’ suit asks for compensatory damages and for King and Shallcross to be barred from law enforcement.
Lewis, the State Police spokesman, said he didn’t know if King and the other troopers named in the lawsuit are facing internal charges.
We've upgraded our community features on NJ.comLearn more! »
TODAY IN NEW JERSEY
- • Send tips, photos, video
- POPULAR NEWS TOPICS
- JERSEY NEWSPAPERS
- Browse today's news:
Browse by week:
- STAR-LEDGER VIDEO
Tony Jones rushed for 215 yards and a career-high five touchdowns helping Don Bosco Prep defeat Saint Peter's Prep 35-15.
Real-Time News Headlines
Check out new community tools on NJ.com!