Buddhist-Wiccan cop sues LAPD after colleague warns she’ll ‘burn in Hell’
A Los Angeles police officer has filed a lawsuit claiming colleagues harassed her over her gender and her religion.
Officer Victoria DeBellis filed the complaint Wednesday seeking unspecified damages in superior court for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, reported the Woodland Hills Patch.
The practicing Buddhist-Wiccan said she began experiencing sexual harassment in 2011, about 15 years after joining the LAPD, and requested a transfer from the North Hollywood Division to the West Valley Division.
There she suffered additional sexual harassment, the suit claims.
According to the suit, Officer Thomas Tenney made “inappropriate sex and gender-based comments” to DeBellis and discussed “his dislike and disrespect for women,” including his own wife, mother, and in-laws.
Tenney also told DeBellis that he tried to have other female officers fired for incompetence, the complaint says, and warned her not to “rat (him) out.”
The officer also made “degrading” comments about her lactation break after returning to work in 2012 from maternity leave and condemned her religious beliefs.
Tenney came to work in February 2013 with a mark on his forehead from an Ash Wednesday ceremony, the suit claims, and DeBellis told him she longer practiced Catholicism but was instead a Buddhist-Wiccan priestess.
The officer “was visibly upset and appeared disgusted,” the suit alleges, and told his colleague that “women cannot be priests.”
Tenney later told DeBellis she “cannot switch religions” and would “burn in Hell,” the suit claims.
The following month, DeBellis found a “Blues Brothers” poster near her workspace emblazoned with the quote, “We’re on a mission from God,” from the popular 1980 movie.
Her partner took down the poster and threw it away, and the suit claims Tenney later claimed someone had stolen his poster and he would file a theft report.
She also claimed in the suit that Tenney persistently shot rubber bands at her in the office but claimed he was aiming elsewhere.
The suit claims DeBellis was threatened with transfer after complaining about Tenney to managers, and she said other officers ostracized her after Tenney was finally transferred in October.
A spokeswoman for the LAPD said the department does not comment on litigation.
[Image: Policeman wearing black uniform and glasses pointing in ordering manner via Shutterstock]