Trooper Harassment Suit Settled

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A state panel voted Tuesday to pay the
Nevada Highway Patrol's top female trooper $480,000 to settle a federal civil rights case alleging sexual harassment and misconduct
by former patrol officials.

The Board of Examiners, chaired by Gov. Jim Gibbons, approved the payment to Capt. Jacquelyn Sandage, who filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in late 2006 alleging sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation and other claims.

An investigation into the claims by Sandage, a 13-year patrol veteran, led to the resignation of the patrol's chief, Col. David Hosmer, in 2006 and the demotion of one of his top officers, Maj. Robert Wideman.

In a report to the Board of Examiners, Jerry Hafen, the newly appointed Department of Public Safety director, asked for a settlement, "including conditions that will remedy the disruptive effect Captain Sandage's involvement in the litigation is having on the department."

In her complaint, Sandage said Hosmer and other command officers
contributed to and permitted a "sexually hostile work environment," which included calling her names such as "the princess" and other insults.

Sandage said she was "leered at" by a high-ranking highway patrol official and told, "you look good in uniform. I like a woman in uniform." She also said someone put a McDonald's restaurant application in her inbox.

When she complained about those incidents and crude remarks by
troopers about her, Sandage said she was told some of her complaints were blown out of proportion and that she should "suck it up a little."

The lawsuit was filed before Gibbons, who serves on the Board of
Examiners with Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller, took office. He said one of his goals has been to ensure such problems don't recur in state government.

Gibbons said that he's "very comfortable that we have undertaken the strongest possible effort to make sure that we have covered those bases."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)