Transgender Woman Claims Police Harassed & Abused HerPosted: Updated: Jan 10, 2019 06:11 PM
A transgender woman said she was harassed and abused by Watertown City Police and members of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, but when she asked the state to look into her complaint it was dismissed.
The state's Division of Human Rights denied her request to investigate the case. Now, backed by a civil rights group, she's trying to force the state's hand.
DeAnna LeTray sat in court Thursday morning hoping a State Supreme Court Judge would side with her.
She and lawyers from the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) want the state to overturn a decision it made to not investigate the circumstances of her arrest in September 2017.
"It was a bad night," LeTray said.
Police were called to a domestic dispute involving LeTray and her daughter's boyfriend.
LeTray, a transgender woman, said that Watertown City Police mocked her sexuality, calling her a man and using excessive force as they arrested her.
When she was taken to the Jefferson County Public Safety Building, she said a group of officers strip searched her, ripped off her wig, hog-tied her and sexually abused her while others watched.
She describes the abuse as a repeated probing and fondling of her private parts.
When she brought her case to the New York State Division of Human Rights she was told the case was out of its jurisdiction.
Her lawyers argue this is exactly what the division is meant to investigate.
"This is not something that should only be applied to private organizations," said Erin Beth Harrist, a NYCLU Lawyer. "It should be beholden to make sure that its police, that its corrections agencies do not discriminate against people on the basis of race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation."
In court, a lawyer for the Division of Human Rights argued that police and corrections agencies are not considered public accommodations, which is why they are not in the division's jurisdiction.
Neither city police nor the sheriff's department had a comment on the case.
Judge James McClusky reserved decision on the case. He'll make a ruling in the next few weeks.
The ramification of what he decides could go beyond just this incident.
If Judge McClusky rules in favor of LeTray, it would set a precedent for the Division of Human Rights to begin investigating complaints made against police departments and corrections agencies across the state.