Former Detective Suing Watertown Police Department, Police Union for Sexual Discrimination

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A former Watertown Police officer has sued the Watertown Police Department and the Police union for “gender discrimination and retaliation” after she was forced to leave the department. The suit also alleged that it was due in part to an intimate relationship she was having with a superior officer.

A copy of the civil suit filed in Middlesex Superior Court was obtained by the Boston Herald, which ran a story and a column on Tuesday evening. See the story here.

The suit said that former WPD detective Kathleen Donohue faced “sexually charged comments,” and “dangerous rumors” about false affairs, the Herald reports.

The relationship detailed in the suit, and in a column by Howie Carr, Donohue said she had been having a five-year “sexual relationship” with then head of detectives, Lt. Michael Lawn, who is now the Police Chief.

According to the column, the suit says Lawn, “used the power of his position and isolation he knew Det. Donohue was experiencing to invite her to engage in an intimate relationship with him.”

The Watertown Police Department did not provide a comment on the suit to Watertown News, and Chief Lawn did not respond to a request from Watertown News for a statement.

In the suit, Donohue said that her male colleagues created a “toxic” environment for her, the Herald reports, including after the capture of Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Donohue was one of the first officers to respond Franklin Street where the bombing suspect was hiding in a boat. She suffered PTSD after bullets flew inches from her head during the incident. The Herald story said she was: “‘further isolated’ her from fellow male cops who ‘attacked’ her for calling out the ‘poor weapons discipline’ others showed that day.”

The Police Department treated Donohue differently from her male colleagues, the suit alleges. According to the Herald column, other male officers who were alleged to have committed wrongdoings were not disciplined, including an officer who “forged identities in order to obtain controlled substances illegally. On information and belief, he was not emergently suspended,” the suit said, according to the column.

Douglas Louison, an attorney for the Town of Watertown denied the allegations, according to the Herald.

7 thoughts on “Former Detective Suing Watertown Police Department, Police Union for Sexual Discrimination

  1. Donohue will receive an undisclosed settlement from the Town. Lawn will retire, with full pension, and move onto something that his brother digs up for him through connections on Beacon Hill. New WPD chief will announce improved set of guidelines to prevent this kind of nefarious activity from happening again. Folks, you know the rest of the script…

  2. So the sister of a former town council member, who is also the sister-in-law to a current school committee member, is suing the Watertown Police Department over alleged discrimination caused by an inappropriate relationship with the current police Chief, who is the brother of a State Representative and cousins with a WPD lieutenant? Yes, sounds exactly like Watertown. Step one is to remove the Town Manager who has only looked the other way throughout these allegations when they were first presented to him, town council members and the department several times spanning many years. Remember the town manager appoints the chief of police under the current charter, and this was all known by Mr. Driscoll at the time. If this form of government continues for another decade, Watertown nepotism and cronyism will only get worse. Step two, it is time to disband the council-manager form of government that is so deeply flawed and corrupt. Look no further than the individuals responsible for bringing this charade of a government to town and you will see that they are all closely aligned to the same people running the town today. What a sad situation Watertown has become under the leadership of these individuals. How can any of these personnel issues be seriously dealt with when everyone is deeply connected by close relation to those in a position of power? This is why nepotism plagues small towns like Watertown.

  3. If they treat their own like this imagine how they treat the general public. It will be interesting to see the WPD lie their way out of this one. The citizens of Watertown should very concerned.

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