Cherie Byrd, a former Asheville, N.C. police officer, is suing the city of Asheville and her former supervisor, Eric Lauffer, on the grounds that she was sexually and racially harassed via lewd and racist text messages sent by Lauffer.
In her lawsuit, Byrd also alleges that when she reported the racial and sexual harassment to Lauffer’s supervisor, Lieutenant Chris Young, the police chief, Bill Hogan, and other city officials, the city didn’t respond adequately. Additionally, Byrd alleges that the Asheville Police Department (APD) treats female officers differently and kept her under Lauffer’s supervision after she made her complaints.
Eric Lauffer’s attorney, Jim Siemens, the city and the APD admit that Lauffer sent the lewd and racist text messages, though they deny any wrongdoing, asserting that Lauffer sent the texts to his entire unit and did not single Byrd out.
Lauffer was demoted from sergeant to police officer senior in the wake of the lawsuit.
Cherie Byrd, who left the department in late April after several months on administrative leave, asserts that working under Lauffer’s supervision made her job impossible, eventually led to an inability to continue employment with the APD and has endangered her future career in law enforcement.