Glendale Settles Police Suits

Times Staff Writer

Two lawsuits stemming from numerous sexual harassment complaints by three female officers against the Glendale Police Department have been settled for a total of $4 million, according to parties in the suits.

"They obviously paid this money because we beat them every step of the way," Bradley Gage, the attorney representing the officers, said Saturday. "We won every significant thing for the last three years."

"The city of Glendale fought against them harder than anyone I'd ever seen fight," Gage said of the cases, which were settled Friday.

The first lawsuit, brought in December 2001, alleged that the women were subjected to unwanted advances and punished if they resisted, and that they were shown sexually explicit videos at roll call.

In June 2003, a jury awarded $3.5 million to Kathryn Frieders, Jamie Franke and Renae Kerner. The city of Glendale appealed the verdict on legal technicalities.

During that trial, Kerner testified that a male officer had once "dry fired" his weapon at her in 2001. According to trial testimony, another officer -- who would later work in internal affairs -- ran a pornographic website that he accessed from work.

The women filed a second suit in June alleging that they faced retaliation after the first verdict, and that attorney Irma Rodriguez Moisa -- who worked for Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, a firm representing the city -- defamed them by telling reporters they had lied during the first trial.

Moisa could not be reached for comment Saturday. Melanie Poturica, the managing partner for the firm, said: "These were allegations; they were never proven. We agreed that a settlement was in the firm's best interest. It was an opportunity to settle this one and the first one."

The city of Glendale paid $3 million of the settlement, and the law firm covered the other $1 million.

Only Kerner still works for the Glendale department, Gage said. He said Frieders is an officer with a department in Orange County and Franke has left police work.

Carmen Merino, a senior assistant city attorney for Glendale, said the city's mounting legal bills spurred the settlement.

"On balance, we think it's a good settlement in the best interest of the city, the Police Department employees and the taxpayers," Merino said. "We look forward to putting this behind us."

Merino said the city has also stepped up its efforts to monitor employees' harassment complaints.

"I would say we have taken significant steps to address the concerns of the employees," she said, adding that several of the officers named in the suits no longer work for the city.

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