A former Michigan cop claims her coworkers took bets on who could sleep with her first, forced themselves on her and eventually forced her to resign.
Teresa Williams claims in a new lawsuit that as the only woman on the Iron Mountain Police Department, she was groped, coaxed into kissing a superior officer over shots of alcohol and “held to a completely different standard” on the job than her coworkers.
“I want my story to be told because I want people to know — other women to know — that they’re not alone,” Williams told the Detroit Free Press. “And I want other women to know that it’s OK to be embarrassed about stuff like this. … You shouldn’t have to hide from it. People need to be held accountable for this type of bulls—.”
Williams, 35, joined the department in 2017 after dreaming of the job since childhood, she told the outlet. Iron Mountain is a small town in the Upper Peninsula that borders Wisconsin.
However, her dream gig quickly turned into a “nightmare” because of the alleged sexual harassment, and her time as an officer ended when she was given the option of being fired or resign, according to the suit.
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Within her first few weeks with the department, she claimed she was asked to join colleagues for drinks, which made her “happy” and felt like she was being “accepted.”
That night, however, she was allegedly told to be fully initiated as a cop she would need to do a shot and then make out with her supervisor, the Detroit Free Press reported. Williams said she rejected the request, but her supervisor allegedly coaxed her into it after he demonstrated, taking a shot and then kissing a former male dispatcher.
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Later that night, her former supervisor Joseph Dumais allegedly pressured her into a second shot but did not kiss her. Instead, he allegedly “put his hand between Plaintiff’s legs and grabbed her genitals. Plaintiff froze in fear,” according to the suit, which was obtained by Fox News Digital.
Williams argued that Dumais wielded a great deal of power while she was on the force, and she was afraid to speak out. He also reportedly made a bet with Williams’ former partner, Garth Budek, on who would sleep with the woman first and claimed she was “a lawsuit waiting to happen,” she claimed.
In another alleged incident cited in the lawsuit, Williams drove Budek home after going out to a bar with colleagues. Budek allegedly told Williams to stop the car while the two were alone, under the pretenses that he had to “tell her something.”
Budek went on to allegedly tell her about “how hot her ass looked in her duty pants,” and pulled her hand down to his genitals. He then attempted to kiss the woman, but she turned away, and he kissed her neck, according to the suit.
The incident in the car only stopped after Budek allegedly shoved her hand down his pants, and she stopped resisting, resulting in him letting go of her hand, the suit claimed.
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After finally reaching Budek’s home, he allegedly asked for “at least for a hug” and then again reportedly kissed her neck and groped her thigh.
When she again resisted, he allegedly apologized and broke down into tears.
Her working relationship with Budek became “extremely hostile” after Williams went to a bar with her partner and his wife, before heading to Budek’s house to watch a movie, according to the suit. Budek’s wife reportedly excused herself from watching the movie, and Budek pressured Williams to perform oral sex on him, stipulating she could never tell anyone.
“I said I wanted to go home,” Williams told the Detroit Free Press of the alleged incident. She added that she felt powerless because Budek was her superior and friends with Dumais.
“I basically felt helpless … like I didn’t have a choice,” Williams said, stressing she is “embarrassed about all of this.” “If I didn’t go along with what was going on, they were going to ruin me and make my life a living hell.”
Williams said that while at work, she faced stares from male colleagues that made her feel like “a piece of meat.”
“The way that they would look at me was one of the biggest things. It made me feel like I was a piece of meat,” Williams said.
In 2020, she allegedly got into an argument with Budek over a traffic stop, which resulted in her getting a new partner. That is when she first learned of how her supervisor and former partner took bets on who would sleep with her first, she said.
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Both Budek and Dumais were given promotions, while Williams said she was “relentlessly” disciplined for doing things that her male colleagues often did and without consequences, such as not taking the fastest route to a call, according to the allegations. The alleged increase in discipline happened around the same time that the department found out she was engaged to be married, the Detroit Free Press reported.
In November 2020, she went to her union representatives for help on discrimination, sexual harassment and unfair discipline, but “was advised against being a ‘whistleblower’” and told she could be fired if her claims were determined unfounded, according to the claims. She was also advised to document such examples of harassment and discrimination on bodycam footage or on email, it went on.
Jack Schulz, Williams’ attorney, said the treatment Williams has faced is “the most horrific” he has seen in his career, the Detroit Free Press reported.
“Rather than embrace diversity and inclusion, these officers, including leadership, have acted with complete impunity,” Schulz said. “Their actions are disgraceful, and they must be held accountable.”
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The lawsuit was filed last month and names as defendants the city of Iron Mountain, the city’s police department, as well as Dumais, Budek and Ed Mattson, the director of the police department.
The attorney representing the defendants, Gregory R. Grant of Cummings McClorey Davis & Acho, told Fox News Digital Thursday that “at this time, we cannot comment about the specific allegations or details of this active case.”
“There are two sides to every story and my clients are looking forward to presenting the facts in court,” Grant said. “The City of Iron Mountain has always been committed to creating a safe and respectful work environment for all of its employees.”
Williams’ employment at the department came to an end in April of last year, when she said she was given the options of resigning or getting fired.
Her husband was pulled over in April of that year and charged with DUI in a neighboring Wisconsin town. He called Williams on speakerphone from the car regarding how he would be late coming home that day, according to the suit.
Williams responded to the scene, and allegedly found her husband’s truck had been searched without permission and her husband in the back of a squad car, according to the suit. She asked if she could drive the truck home, but was told no, according to the Detroit Free Press. The truck was sent to an impound lot, where it cost $700 to get it out, according to the allegations.
The next day, Williams discovered that the county where her husband was arrested was planning to charge her with disorderly conduct and obstructing justice over an allegation she prevented officers from searching the truck, the lawsuit stated.
She was placed on unpaid suspension at her own department and was soon given the option of resigning or getting fired, according to the allegations.
She submitted her resignation on April 21, 2022.
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She was charged for interfering with her husband’s traffic stop, but pleaded it down to a county ordinance violation. Williams denied any wrongdoing for the charge, saying it was orchestrated by local police after she spoke out against sexual harassment.
“I still have nightmares about everything I’ve gone through at that department,” Williams told the Detroit Free Press of the fallout from her time on the force. “I wake myself up screaming. My husband will wake me up because I’m trembling. I am petrified.”
She said she’s speaking out to do “the right thing” and to maintain her integrity.
“My biggest thing is having integrity, standing tall and doing the right thing,” Williams said. “I know that this kind of stuff happens everywhere. I’m not the only female that this has happened to.”
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