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Former Edgewater Police officer sues over retaliation, harassment

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The woman, who is the named victim in a sexual assault case against her former sergeant, claims she was wrongfully terminated.

EDGEWATER, Colo. — A woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a now-former Edgewater Police officer is suing the department and several of its current and former staff members, saying she was retaliated against and ultimately forced to resign from the department.

9NEWS is not naming the woman because she’s considered a victim of sexual assault.

According to an arrest affidavit, on Dec. 12, 2019, while off-duty after leaving a holiday party, Nathan Geerdes sexually assaulted the female officer in two separate incidents. Related to those incidents, Geerdes faces two counts of unlawful sexual contact and two counts of unlawful sexual contact – use of force.

The woman filed a federal lawsuit Monday against Geerdes, who resigned amid the investigation, and against Cmdr. Mark Hamilton, who has also since left the department.

The other names in the suit include former EPD Chief John Mackey, current Sgts. Jason Forsythe and Brandon Challis, and City Manager Dan Maples.

The woman said she did not make a formal report initially because she was a recent hire and feared retaliation.

Directly after the holiday party, she told a fellow officer about the incident, but that officer waited to report the incident to his supervisor, Hamilton, until late summer 2020. When he did, Hamilton said he would “handle it” but failed to take further action at the time to address the allegations, according to an arrest affidavit.

The lawsuit claims that by not addressing the assault, Hamilton “failed to follow Edgewater and EPD policies on sexual discrimination, harassment and intimidation.”

In December 2020, Mackey was made aware of the allegations during an exit interview of another officer. He directed an internal affairs investigation that ultimately resulted in Geerdes resigning in early 2021.

Afterward, according to the lawsuit, Mackey met with the woman and told her she had “ruined a good cop’s career” and said “none of this would have happened if she had kept her mouth shut.”

She claims in the lawsuit that she was subjected to numerous acts of retaliation and forced to work in a hostile work environment.

According to the lawsuit, she was moved to the night shift even though she had seniority. She also claims her partner stopped talking to her after she made a complaint that she responded to the majority of the calls for service while they worked together.

According to the lawsuit, the woman filed a formal complaint about the hostile work environment but it was found to have no merit, even though it was not “fully investigated.”

She then went to Maples, who was the city manager, who assured her the treatment she was experiencing would not continue, the lawsuit says.

However, the lawsuit claims that no corrective action was taken to address the issues.

In February 2022, the woman was notified about an Internal Affairs investigation against her related to the handling of the arrest of two car theft suspects, one of whom was injured and needed to be admitted to the hospital.

The lawsuit claims that on April 3, 2022, the investigation’s results were issued and Maples, the “de-facto chief,” recommended that she be fired for violating policies. She ultimately resigned and has been unable to find work at another department, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Maples, who is the current city manager, did not have the authority to fire her because the Edgewater Police Internal Affairs policy can only be exercised by the police chief, who is required to be a sworn officer. 

The suit also claims Maples violated state law by not appointing an acting or interim chief for a period of three months in early 2022.

Multiple male members of the department “routinely” engaged in the same conduct for which she was terminated but were not subject to investigations or even disciplined or counseled, the lawsuit claims.

The City of Edgewater said it couldn’t comment now on the lawsuit but said all facts would be made public through the court trial process.

This week, new charges were filed against Geerdes for allegedly lying on applications to other police departments after he was forced to resign from the Edgewater Police Department amid the internal affairs investigation into the sex assault accusations.

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Former Edgewater Police officer sues over retaliation, harassment

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