Spirit Lake Woman Says She & Her Sons Endured Sexual Comments & Gestures From Police Chief
by Dylan Wohlenhaus, KHQ Local News Reporter - email
SPIRIT LAKE, Idaho - Alleged sexual comments from Spirit Lake police chief leave a family disturbed.
Sherry Schroeder says she and her sons endured "graphic" sexual comments and gestures from Chief Pat Lawless while her husband was the Police Administrator for the city. Her husband has since resigned his position because she says the comments created a "hostile work environment" for her husband. Schroeder says Chief Lawless on at least two occasions made sexual comments to her, and her younger son.
"It's so inappropriate, he came out he was on the city sidewalk, he was in his uniform. It was open to the public. Anybody that walked by, drove by, could see him doing this lewd action." Sherry tells KHQ of the alleged comments made to her son. Schroeder is not named in the 5 million dollar tort claim against Chief Lawless and the city, but says she is one of many victims of his "graphic" sexual harassment.
KHQ has chosen not to disclose in full detail the comments and gestures allegedly made to Schroeder because they are graphic in nature.
SPIRIT LAKE, Idaho- The Chief of Police in Spirit Lake, Pat Lawless, is being accused of sexual harassment and being investigated by Post Falls Police.
A tort claim seeking 5 million dollars in damages was filed by former Spirit Lake police officer Crystal Sudol. The claim states that Sudol endured sexual harassment both verbal and physical from Chief Lawless during her time working at the department. In the claim Sudol says the Chief "created a hostile working environment for females and did batter and assault Sudol".
Spirit Lake Mayor Todd Clary is also coming under fire in the claim which states "the mayor took great lengths to sweep this matter under the rug" even after Sudol had went to Clary with her concerns. It claims Clary and Lawless are good friends and that's why there was no action taken. The complaint states that Sudol was told by the Mayor that "if there wasn't a sexual touching, it wasn't sexual harassment", and if it was sexual touching Lawless would have "been immediately fired."
KHQ spoke with Chief Pat Lawless over the phone who said "I would really love to be able to defend myself, but its best we don't make any comments on this right now." KHQ also asked Lawless if he believes he should step down as police Chief, he replied "well I don't want to make a comment on that right now, we will have to see how this all plays out." Phone calls to Mayor Todd Clary and voice mails were not returned.
According to Lawless Crystal Sudol was a police officer at Spirit Lake from March 2011 to November 2011, that's when, according to the tort claim Sudol was "constructively discharged from her position of employment."
The Post Falls police department has confirmed they are investigating Pat Lawless for a "separate matter". KHQ sent a public records request to Post Falls police pertaining to the investigation of Pat Lawless. Police would not release any records because it's an "On going investigation." KHQ has confirmed Post Falls police were called to Lawless' home a few weeks ago on a welfare check.
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