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Kendall facing more sexual harassment suits

Updated: January 28, 2013 6:25AM

Two former Kendall County jail guards are suing the Sheriff’s Department, claiming they were repeatedly sexually harassed while on the job.

Amber Christoffel Slaughter and Nichole Porus have filed a federal suit against the county and the Sheriff’s Department.

Both women say they were forced to change in co-ed locker rooms with men who frequently comment on their underwear or appearance. The women also claim in the suit that they reported the abuse to supervisors, who failed to take any action.

In the suit, Slaughter says she was forced to resign. Porus claims co-workers made false claims about her insubordination and she was fired in June 2009.

Attorney Benjamin Jacobi, who is representing the county, would only make limited comments on the pending litigation. Jacobi said the facts mentioned in the filing are untrue and called the lawsuit “frivolous.”

Slaughter was hired by the sheriff’s office in February 2007. According to the suit, Slaughter was subjected to “an ongoing campaign of sexual harassment by male supervisors and co-workers throughout her employment” at the jail in Yorkville.

Slaughter claims that in the locker room, men would undress in front of her, commenting on her body or clothing. Slaughter was told that she would have to sleep her way to the top of the department, the suit says. Slaughter says she was called a “slut” at work and received sexually explicit e-mails.

Porus started working as a correctional officer in December 2004. According to the suit, she also received sexually explicit e-mails at work, as well as love letters in her locker. Men would walk up behind her and grab her, squeeze her and lift her without warning or consent, the suit says. A male supervisor would ask for a private meeting with Porus, then ask to go to a hotel with her, the suit alleges. A supervising officer also pulled at Porus’ bra and touched her shoulders and back, the suit says.

The suit was filed in November. Slaughter’s case is scheduled to be in court again Jan. 14; Porus is to be in court again on Jan. 25.

Martin Lucas, the attorney representing both women, did not return calls for comment.

Earlier harassment suit

This is not the first time the Kendall County sheriff’s office has faced sexual harassment complaints.

In 2010, the Kendall County Board settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $188,000, paying another $193,000 in legal fees to defend Kendall County Chief Deputy Terry Tichava in court.

According to the lawsuit, Tichava’s administrative assistant was “subjected to repeated sexual harassment from (Tichava) in the form of statements, lewd gestures laden with innuendos, inappropriate comments and language, inappropriate touching and inappropriate conduct.”

It goes on to say the woman was “repeatedly groped” and was later fired for disobeying office regulations.

Almost all of the settlement cost was paid by the county’s insurance company, with the county paying a $10,000 deductible. But the settlement was expected to increase insurance rates for the county, possibly by as much as 10 percent. As part of the settlement, neither Tichava — who has since retired — nor the Sheriff’s Department admitted to any wrongdoing.

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