Ex-police sergeant sues force after alleged harassment

GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- The first female sergeant on the Gig Harbor police force is suing the department, saying she dealt with years of harassment and discrimination before she resigned in January.

Former police Sgt. Sharon Cox said a "Good ol' Boys" culture was the major factor in her decision to resign.

Cox was hired as a Gig Harbor police officer in 2007, and was the first women promoted to sergeant in 2010, beating out several male candidates for the position. But, according to Cox's attorney, it didn't take long before a "Good Old Boys Club" of male police officers began to harass and intimidate her.

"This is a case where someone had a vindictive and one-sided agenda of harassing and retaliating against Sharon for the simple reason that he got beat by a girl," Cox's attorney, Julie Kays, said.

The Gig Harbor Police Department declined comment on the case.

According to Kays, a male officer allegedly "dug up dirt" and accessed her personal file. He allegedly found some missteps involving Cox, who was on duty during a Key Peninsula supermarket shooting in August where three people were injured.

According to Gig Harbor records, Cox heard a call coming from Pierce County Sheriff's Department during the shooting asking for assistance. Cox, who was investigating a hit-and-run accident at the time, waited 10 minutes -- as per department protocol -- before leaving the scene, Kays said. This allegedly led to more harassment by her co-workers, with many men on the force calling her a "coward," Kays added.