by: Allison Latos Updated:
IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. - Channel 9 has learned new details in the sexual harassment lawsuit against Iredell County Deputy Ben Jenkins, who is accused of targeting domestic violence victims.
Documents filed in federal court this week reveal allegations that behavior was condoned and committed higher up in the department.
"Just because you carry a badge and a weapon and take an oath to protect and serve does not mean it gives you the right to abuse or harass anyone," said Suzanne Wick.
Wick and Lisa Mangiardi are suing Jenkins and Sheriff Phil Redmond.
Wick wants the case heard after the defense asked a judge to throw out part of their federal lawsuit.
"What Sheriff Redmond and Deputy Jenkins are asserting is that their badges cloak them in immunity from what transpired in the lawsuit," said the plaintiffs' attorney Josh Van Kampen.
In documents filed this week, the plaintiffs argue the lawsuit should stick and cite several new claims including that in 2006 a former employee notified the sheriff's office of a possible relationship between Jenkins and a domestic violence victim.
They also claim sexual harassment was condoned at the sheriff's office and even happened with higher ups, particularly naming Chief Deputy Rick Dowdle,
The documents state that multiple female employees claimed Dowdle harassed them.
"This is a bigger problem than even we know right now," said Van Kampen.
Eyewitness News went to the Iredell County Sheriff's Office to question Dowdle, but was told he was out of town at a conference.
Eyewitness News also emailed defense attorney Patrick Flanagan.
While Flanagan declined an interview, he told Channel 9, "I feel it is inappropriate for any lawyer to make any comment regarding an ongoing case."
The case is set for trial in January.