HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Attorneys filed a federal lawsuit Monday morning against Harris County Constable Precinct 1, alleging sexual misconduct by male superiors against female deputies.
In a press release sent to ABC13, attorneys said female deputies "were molested and traumatized by their intoxicated male commanding officers for their own sexual gratification during undercover law enforcement operations." The lawsuit alleged that the female Precinct 1 deputies were chosen for "undercover operations" but they soon turned into a "booze-fueled playground for sexual exploitation."
Jacquelyn Aluotto, who has been deemed the whistleblower, has become the voice for the two women who said they were victimized by the very agency they served.
"We want to send a message this can never happen again," said Aluotto, who used to work in the Human Trafficking Unit at Precinct 1.
Constable Alan Rosen, Assistant Chief Chris Gore and Lt. Shane Ridgon are listed in the suit.
The plaintiffs' attorneys said the unit, led by Gore, would have sting operations.
"The idea being that when the sex worker came in, they would be more likely to agree to have sex for a fee," said Cordt Akers, the plaintiffs' attorney. "An arrest could be made, interviews could be done and arrests up the chain could be made."
Attorneys said the stings turned into booze-filled parties where female deputies were encouraged to drink a lot to "loosen up." From there, they were touched inappropriately.
"These brave women were 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," said Akers.
Aloutto got word of what was happening and said she reached out to Constable Rosen himself but said nothing changed.
"We expect our deputies to be able to go to work, especially with a complex crime like human trafficking, and to be able to do their job," said Aloutto. "And to not be able to do their job, because you're being exploited and oppressed at your work place, can never happen again."
The plaintiff's attorney said he believes there are more female deputies that were impacted and is asking them to come forward.
Aluotto is nationally known as a human-trafficking advocate, who in 2020, received an award from the United Nations for her work. According to the lawsuit, Aluotto was hired by Constable Rosen's office and "vigorously complained" about the harassment, sexual assault, retaliation and bullying in Precinct 1's Human Trafficking Unit.
But when she called out the alleged misconduct and abuse, she was fired, court documents say. The lawsuit also accuses Rosen and Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of knowing about the abuse but not taking any action.
Dane Schiller, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office, gave ABC13 the following statement:
"Anytime we receive an allegation from an officer accusing a fellow officer of impropriety, we connect them with appropriate investigative entities. We are not the investigative agency for such allegations, be them administrative, civil or criminal. 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 by either agency."
On Monday, ABC13 spoke with Lt. Rigdon by phone. He said he had not read the lawsuit yet. When ABC13 told him what it detailed, he said the allegations were not true.
The case was filed in federal court, but there is no word on any ongoing criminal investigation.
ABC13 reached out to the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable's office, who shared the following statement:
"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. 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.
Upon conclusion of our internal investigation, our Administrative Disciplinary Committee found no violations of law or policy. When we began our proactive internal investigation, we immediately transferred leadership of the Human Trafficking Unit to another supervisor who still maintains oversight of that unit today.
Victim's voices matter. I have a zero-tolerance stance against sexual assault and sexual harassment and would never allow a hostile work environment as alleged. This lawsuit is an effort to impugn the good reputation of the hard-working men and women of the Precinct One Constable's Office. I believe our system of due process works and that justice and truth will prevail as facts, in this case, come to light. We will have no further comment today on this matter."
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Harris Co. Pct. 1 female deputies accuse male bosses of molestation and trauma