A former NYPD recruit who didn’t make it through the police academy claimed that she was sexually harassed and then punished for complaining about it.
According to a report from the Daily News, 37-year-old Glenda Mejia dreamt of being a detective with the NYPD for years.
But when she finally joined the academy, her experience didn’t go as planned. Mejia filed a lawsuit in 2017 alleging that the training gave her shin splints, a severe back injury as well and a leg fracture, and cited numerous sexual harassment complaints.
The NYPD terminated her without cause.
“They wiped away my dreams and my career,” she said in an interview with Daily News. “I feel like I’m in purgatory right now and I can’t get out. I stood up for myself and I got terminated for no reason. Every time I talk about it I get emotional.”
Former NYPD Police Recruit who was let go from the NYPD Police Academy says she was sexually harassed during her training and then punished by her Police Instructors with grueling physical workouts when she complained. https://t.co/MBrxOcLdKa
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In the lawsuit that Mejia filed, she claimed that relationships and fraternization between recruits and instructors wasn’t unusual. She also speculated that these relationships made training much easier on certain recruits and also set them up for better assignments when they graduated from the academy.
Mejia was one of 4 women in a class of 27 recruits. She told reporters that those who refused to participate were punished because of it.
“If you don’t flirt or you are not friendly the way they want you to be friendly, [the gym instructors and sergeants] start bullying you,” Mejia said in a deposition. “I did see things at the academy with the gym instructors trying to date female recruits… If you talk… they make your life a living hell.”
The report alleged that Officer Michael Opromalla told Mejia, “Wow. You look really pretty today. You look skinnier. You are looking good. I know that you are struggling. Maybe we can have private sessions outside of the academy, and I could train you and you will get better.”
Mejia was very blunt in her deposition statements.
“You had better flirt. You had better bat your eyelashes. You had better humble yourself,” she said. “You had better date, have sex, whatever it is, if you want to graduate and if you want to get into a good precinct. If you don’t do that, you are going to get bullied.”
Mejia apparently kept a journal with very specific notes surrounding the comments that were made to her.
Another instructor reportedly said, “You are very attractive. You are not going to have a problem in the precinct. You could be driving a sergeant around.”
Kelly O’Connell is Mejia’s lawyer. She said, “Even though it is supposedly disallowed, there was fraternization going on all around her.”
“Her dreams to be a detective were crushed because she didn’t play the game,” O’Connell said.
When asked for comment, NYPD Spokesperson Sergeant Jessica McRorie said, “There is no tolerance for sexual harassment in the NYPD. The NYPD will review the lawsuit.”