Allen Park police officer says she was sexually harassed by her sergeant
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (WJBK) - She fights crime for a career but an Allen Park police officer says she couldn't stop the sexual harassment she encountered inside her own department.
For years she says she's been a victim of sexual advances at the hands of one of her fellow officers. Now she's coming out of the dark and filing charges.
Officer Tracie Brown says her badge provided no protection from the unwanted sexual advances of her sergeant.
"He knows that what he's doing is wrong, he knows that none of these behaviors are anything that I wanted," Brown said. "I told him no. I told him stop. I don't know why he continues."
A 16-year veteran of the Allen Park Police Department, Brown said that Sgt. Daniele Cerroni unzipped his pants in front of her and forcibly pushed her hand onto his crotch and pressured her for sexual favors.
"As we were talking, he grabbed the back of my head and forced it down to his genital area and tried to force me to give him oral sex," she said.
Brown says her breaking point came in November when she claims Cerroni choked her inside the police station.
"He had his hands around my neck and was squeezing very hard - and he closed my airway," she said. "As I was talking to my lieutenant I was asking him if my neck was red at that time, Sgt. Cerroni was standing there laughing. And he said 'C'mon now, are you really thinking he's going to take your side instead of my side?'"
Brown filed an internal complaint with Police Chief James Wilkewitz, but was shocked to learn he put a lieutenant on the investigation whom she says has made sexually inappropriate comments. One of them was about a child assault victim "looking horny."
And that is not all.
"He said 'What I often wonder is if you are masturbating while you write those narratives," Brown said.
"That's the man they put in charge of investigating this," said attorney Sarah Prescott. "It speaks for itself and tells you there is something very seriously wrong in the city of Allen Park."
Prescott is Brown's lawyer and says the department told city leaders her client signed off on the investigation even though she did not.
In fact Prescott says Chief James Wilkewitz never told Brown, per department policy, if Cerroni was found responsible for any sexual harassment or assault.
Prescott says the only punishment Cerroni received was a few days off work and a reassignment, that for three weeks put Brown in a vulnerable position.
"He was the sergeant on the midnight shift that would take over after my shift was done," Brown said. "And on three separate occasions I got held over on late runs and when I returned to the station, it was only he and I in the station and that was it."
Brown and her lawyer are now asking Michigan State Police to investigate. City council addressed the issue during a closed session Tuesday. Neither the mayor, or police chief would comment on Brown's allegations.
"Tracie never wanted press media anything outside the department," Prescott said. "She could've done that months ago if she wanted that and the sad fact is now maybe just maybe, the city will take it a little more seriously."
Brown will be meeting with state police investigators on Wednesday.