• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Sheriff's deputies file discrimination, criminal conduct lawsuit against department

January 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Sheriff's deputies are suing the department over accusations of criminal conduct and discrimination.

In four separate lawsuits, sheriff's deputies allege their training officers discriminated against them based on age and race. Three of the four still work for the department.

"These are the training officers who made reference to Mr. Kim as a person who needs to go back to Korea. These were the training officers who said to Ms. Medina, 'She's too old.' These were the deputies who punished Mr. Duran because he gave testimony in what they call a 'POE complaint,' a policy of equality complaint, on her behalf," said plaintiffs' attorney Leo Terrell.

The lawsuits allege that when the employees filed internal complaints of harassment and discrimination, the retaliation grew worse, and that they were held back professionally, forced to work 19-hour shifts with no water or bathroom breaks, and transferred multiple times as a result.

"Not true. It is my understanding that this is the very first time we have heard about this," said L.A. County Sheriff's Spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Jacqueline Medina alleges that a mother brought her daughter into the station asking to file a report because she believed her daughter had been raped before she was dropped off at home by two deputies. The lawsuit alleges Medina's superior did not allow her to take a report about the deputies' actions, and punished her by keeping her in a room for four hours.

"When you find a woman naked, you do a police report, you take her to the hospital," said Terrell. "You don't drop her off in front of the house and say, 'Hey, your naked daughter is outside.' You don't do that."

"When somebody says there's a rape and nobody did anything -- absolutely not true," said Whitmore. "So let's get to the bottom of it."

The plaintiffs say they were also retaliated against for "whistle-blowing" when it came to deputy misconduct, like planting and destroying evidence, falsifying reports, disposing of identification cards, even unlawfully detaining another deputy's child as a retaliatory act.

Whitmore denies all the allegations and says they are being investigated by the Office of Independent Review.