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Morningside police officer files sexual harassment suit

The lone female police officer in the Morningside Police Department has filed a sexual harassment suit against her commanding officer.

Carrissa M. Lewis alleges Chief Amos Damron regularly made inappropriate comments about women and shared medical information about her pregnancy with other employees, among other allegations in the lawsuit, filed Monday in Prince George’s County Circuit Court.

“We can’t wait for the chief to explain his actions to a Prince George’s County jury,” said Jimmy A. Bell, an Upper Marlboro solo practitioner representing Lewis.

Lewis, 25, joined the Morningside police nearly two-and-a-half years ago after graduating at the top of her class at Anne Arundel Community College Police Academy, according to the lawsuit.

Morningside has five patrol officers and two supervising officers, including Damron, who became police chief for a second time in December 2013 after serving in the position from 2004 to 2009.

The lawsuit alleges Damron showed “pictures of scantily clad women and told of his sexual desires to them” to Lewis or in her presence. Damron also came to work on Mondays and “brag about his conquest of another woman” he met on an online dating site, according to the lawsuit.

Once Lewis became pregnant, Damron made negative comments about the pregnancy and sexual comments about her body, according to the complaint.

Lewis she let Damron know “she did not appreciate” any of his comments but the chief forbade officers from “going over his head” and speaking with the mayor or town council, according to the complaint.

“The work environment created by Chief Damron is permeated with sexual discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the Plaintiff’s employment that a reasonable person would perceive that it is an abusive working environment,” the complaint states.

Town attorney Todd K. Pounds denied Lewis’ allegations and said a further response would come in court. Pounds also is a senior litigation attorney with Alexander & Cleaver P.A. in Fort Washington.

Lewis went on maternity leave in August and returned to her job in January, according to Bell. She has never received a negative performance review from her supervisors, he added.

“Given all that is going on, she is still doing her job,” Bell said.

Lewis filed an administrative complaint with the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission in January, according to the complaint. Lewis is seeking $300,000 in compensatory damages from the town, and $300,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in punitive damages from Damron, according to the complaint.

The case is Carrissa M. Lewis v. Morningside, Maryland, CAL15-04812.