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Sexual harassment can have long term effects

Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem all over the United States. The great state of Florida is no exception. Probably more distressing is the fact that issues with workplace sexual harassment happen in nearly every industry - including law enforcement.

Residents of Florida may be following a story concerning the Crestview Police Department. The department itself has suffered more than its share of scandal in the past, and the relatively new police chief now says the force remains divided. What's at the root of this difficulty? The behavior and trial of one former department official and the former police chief are at the center of the storm.

The former official has faced a long line of allegations for unsavory behavior, but one of the most troubling on the list includes sexual harassment. Purportedly, the former police department figure was cited on numerous occasions as using derogatory and sexually inflammatory language concerning women and minorities. This behavior allegedly went unchecked.

He was also accused of making inappropriate sexual advances on his coworkers, at one point putting his hands on a subordinate against her will. It was later alleged the former police chief knew of this behavior but did nothing to stop it. In the original grand jury presentment, jurors also faulted the former police chief for knowing the official's track record before even hiring him. Its report read: 'His failure to redress [the official's] offensive and humiliating conduct toward women and co-workers is indefensible.' Nevertheless, the former chief was not included in the indictment against his former subordinate.

This story is proof positive that sexual harassment and other malicious behavior in the Florida workplace can have lasting effects, even after the behavior comes to an end. Also evidenced is the fact that failure to properly address such behavior can result in dire consequences. The good news is anyone suffering from sexual harassment at work can turn to legal advocacy for support. No one should face long-term mistreatment at the hands of an aggressor regardless of his or her professional standing.

Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, "Crestview chief: Police department remains divided," Tom McLaughlin, March 5, 2012

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