The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit as one of their own deputies claims she was harassed, defamed and has been inflicted with emotional distress. Our Amanda Kelley takes a look at the investigation that started it all nearly six-years ago.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Topless photos of a young Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy, all taken while on the job. It was part of an investigation to catch sexual predators online.
Attorney for Deputy Krystal Rice, Charu Narang said, "From the moment that she joined the force she was told that there was an online investigation of pedophiles, her photos were needed. And it was misrepresented to her the type of photos that would be needed."
But now Deputy Krystal Rice has filed a lawsuit against Sheriff John Burns, Lt. Michael Peterson and Detective Steven Cote. In a 45-page complaint Rice claims that she was promised the disk with the photos taken by Detective Cote back in 2006 could be returned to her at any time. Years later, Rice still cannot get her hands on the disk, and says she's been dealing with extreme emotional stress and defamation.
Narang said, "It didn't stop at the photos. There was harassment, isolation, marginalization in the workplace also because she refused to go along with the advances that he had made to her and there were rumors being spread about her personally and professionally."
The New York State Sheriff's Association says they have not researched protocols when it comes to online investigations and the use of such photos to catch predators, but say this situation sounded unusual.
NYS Sheriff's Association Counsel Thomas Mitchell said, "I'd have to say that I'm not familiar with any similar circumstances like this. Again, I'm not saying that this is a practice that's been used by sheriffs or other police departments in the state. I'm just not aware that anyone is using that practice."
Rice's Attorney said she's suing the department for $50 million because this incident has destroyed some of the deputy's personal relationships and could end her career in Jefferson County.
Narang said, "She may not be able to keep her position here at the Sheriff's office and will she be able to obtain employment elsewhere, in this field, that's up for debate."
Jefferson County Attorney David Paulson was contacted several times for comment, but did not return our calls. Sheriff John Burns said he cannot comment on the case. But the New York Sheriff's Association feels this type of practice is something any department should be wary of.
Mitchell said, "It certainly seems like something that is very unusual. I would be very careful about doing something like this."
Narang said, "It is outrageous and sad that in 2012 we as women and as individuals are witnessing this conduct."
Rice remains on the force for now, waiting for her day in court.