Officer Sues Sheriff’s Dept., Co-Workers For Sexual Harassment

HUDSON, Wis. (WCCO) — A member of the St. Croix County Sheriff’s department is suing one of her co-workers, and the department, for defamation of character and sexual harassment. She claims an anonymous posting on a website by her coworker hurt her reputation.

For 15 years, Cathy Borgschatz has worked in the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department, and is currently in charge of all investigation in the department.

In 2009, a story about her was published in the Hudson Star Observer and posted on the website Rivertowns.net. With that posting came public comments, but it was a comment traced back to one of her co-workers that has her so upset.

“One of the investigators in the Sheriff’s Office made a comment in the blog in essence that she was a lesbian by innuendo,” said Borgschatz’s attorney, Philip Villaume.

According to the complaint, Deputy Brent Standaert, a fellow investigator, posted a comment that said, “I know for a fact that Cathy played a different instrument in the band.” After an investigation, the Standaert was disciplined.

“He received a three-day suspension and had been written up for sexual harassment,” said Villaume. “From that point on, it was out position that the Sheriff’s Department covered it up.”

Borsgschatz’s attorney said Standaert should have been terminated but, “he grieved it apparently to minimize the public aspect of the discipline and they had taken out of his letter of reprimand that he had engaged in sexual harassment.”

Villiame believes the department changed Standaert’s file so he could be eligible for promotion in the future. Villame’s calls to the department have gone unanswered, so he hopes the lawsuit will get their attention.

Villiaume said his client has been subject to public ridicule she is suing for damages in excess of $50,000.

A representative from the St. Croix Sheriff’s department said, on advice from lawyers, that the department has no comment about pending lawsuits.

Justin Kwong teaches social networks and virtual worlds at William Mitchell College of law. He said the Patriot Act lowered the hurdle to get information from websites to trace anonymous postings back to the author.

Kwong said most internet providers will disclose that private IP information if requested by law enforcement.

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