The first female police officer ever to serve in a small Michigan town claims that she was the victim of intense sexual harassment and sexual discrimination that forced her to resign.
Teresa Williams, 35, says that she was groped by a supervisor at the Iron Mountain Police Department, and she was pressured into oral sex with a coworker. Williams' lawsuit also claims that she was "held to a completely different standard" on the job than her male coworkers.
In October 2017, just three weeks after being hired by the Iron Mountain Police Department, Williams was allegedly pressured to engage in a bizarre initiation ritual. Her former supervisor, Joseph Dumais, allegedly pressured her into doing a Fireball whiskey shot and making out with him.
"Plaintiff refused and said the whole thing was made up. Dumais responded that it was required and that everyone had to do it as standard protocol," the lawsuit alleges. "To allegedly demonstrate, Dumais took an initial shot along with a former county dispatcher (male) then kissed him. Ultimately, Plaintiff buckled to the pressure and took the 'IMPD shot' with Dumais who, as a result, kissed Plaintiff and stated that she was now 'officially part of IMPD.'"
Later, Dumais allegedly asked Williams to do another shot with him and she agreed after initially declining. The lawsuit filed on Feb. 13 alleges that Dumais then groped Williams.
The suit says, "Dumais pressured Plaintiff into taking the second IMPD shot, however this time Dumais put his hand between Plaintiff’s legs and grabbed her genitals."
Williams allegedly "froze in fear."
In another alleged incident, Williams drove Budek home after frequenting a bar. Budek purportedly instructed Williams to stop the car because he had to "tell her something."
Fox News reported, "Budek went on to allegedly tell her about 'how hot her ass looked in her duty pants,' and pulled her hand down to his genitals. He then attempted to kiss the woman, but she turned away, and he kissed her neck, according to the suit. The incident in the car only stopped after Budek allegedly shoved her hand down his pants, and she stopped resisting, resulting in him letting go of her hand, the suit claimed."
Williams alleges that Budek kissed and groped her when she dropped him off at his house.
Williams allegedly went to Budek's house to watch a movie. Budek's wife excused herself from watching the movie and then Budek pressured Williams to perform oral sex on him, according to the lawsuit.
"I said I wanted to go home," Williams allegedly told Budek. "I basically felt helpless … like I didn't have a choice."
She added, "If I didn't go along with what was going on, they were going to ruin me and make my life a living hell."
Williams said that her coworkers saw her as a "piece of meat."
The former cop stated, "The way that they would look at me was one of the biggest things. It made me feel like I was a piece of meat."
Williams told NBC, "Just because you wear a badge and you’re a cop, it doesn’t mean you’re above the law. It doesn’t mean you get to treat people however you want."
"I want my story to be told because I want people to know — other women to know — that they’re not alone," Williams told the Detroit Free Press. "And I want other women to know that it’s OK to be embarrassed about stuff like this. . . . You shouldn't have to hide from it. People need to be held accountable for this type of bulls**t"
Williams allegedly informed her union that she was being discriminated against in November 2020. However, she was reportedly "advised against being a ‘whistleblower' and told she could be fired if her claims were determined unfounded, according to the claims."
Jack Schulz, Williams’ attorney, said his client has faced "the most horrific" abuse that he had seen in his career.
"Rather than embrace diversity and inclusion, these officers, including leadership, have acted with complete impunity," Schulz said. "Their actions are disgraceful, and they must be held accountable."
Schulz said that the police occupation was a "dream job" for Williams.
Gregory R. Grant of Cummings McClorey Davis & Acho, the attorney representing the defendants, said, "There are two sides to every story and my clients are looking forward to presenting the facts in court. The City of Iron Mountain has always been committed to creating a safe and respectful work environment for all of its employees."
Williams resigned from the Iron Mountain Police Department last April. She claimed that she was given a choice of resignation or being fired.
Williams said, "My biggest thing is having integrity, standing tall and doing the right thing. I know that this kind of stuff happens everywhere. I'm not the only female that this has happened to."
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