LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Louisville settles police sexual-harassment case for $50,000


A lawsuit filed more than three years ago by Louisville Metro Police Sgt. David Burns and an officer against the police department and a commander, claiming the commander sexually harassed the officer and then retaliated against Burns when he reported it, has been settled for $50,000.

Police Chief Robert White agreed in the April 15 settlement that Burns and Officer Debbie Minniear would not, as long as he is chief, have to work in the same division as Maj. Jimmy Harper, who was accused of repeatedly sending inappropriate text messages to Minniear, his former wife, requesting the two have sex and that she send him nude pictures of herself.

Minniear, who is remarried, told her supervisor about the text messages but feared retribution from the department and Harper, who had been her division commander, so she requested no action be taken, according to the suit, which was filed in June 2008.

But Burns, who worked in the 6th Division with Minniear and Harper, asked Harper to stop sending inappropriate messages to Minniear, according to the suit. Harper responded by punishing Burns for alleged performance deficiencies, the suit says.

The department exonerated Harper of charges of sexual harassment and retaliation after an investigation by its professional-standards unit.

Thomas Clay, an attorney for Burns and Minniear, said the professional-standards unit recommended both charges against Harper be sustained but White overruled it.

"It calls into question the chief's confidence in his own PSU unit," Clay said in an interview, adding that he thought the suit was worth more, but his clients wanted to settle and move on.

White said through Officer Carey Klain, a police spokeswoman, that he initiated the investigation into the allegations and based on a review of that investigation, took "appropriate action."

The city agreed in the settlement to pay Burns and Minniear a total of $50,000, split between the two.

Messages left through Klain for Burns, Minniear and Harper were not immediately returned.