Woman suing sheriff, deputy for sexual harassment

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — A Kannapolis woman is suing the Iredell County sheriff and a deputy after she said the deputy threatened and sexually harassed her and still kept his job.

She filed the civil complaint against the two men on Wednesday.

"Just because you are an abused woman doesn’t mean you lose your right to speak," said Suzanne Wick.

Wick said she went to the Iredell County Sheriff's Office in 2009 for help after her husband hit her, threatened her with a gun, and even got physical with their children.

"It's life or death, and you need protection and need it now," she said.

Instead, Wick says she was sexually harassed by Deputy Ben Jenkins, who was on the Special Victims Unit at the time of her complaint.

"It started with him making comments about my appearance, and it escalated to be very graphic," Wick said.

In the civil complaint, Wick alleged that Jenkins called her repeatedly, sometimes late at night. Once, she said he threatened her for turning down an invitation to his home.

"You know, you keep telling me that you're not going to see me and I can go right now and drop all charges against your husband," Jenkins said, according to Wick.

"I believe he needs to lose his job. He should have lost it a long time ago," Wick said.

After her ex-husband pleaded guilty to assault by strangulation and felony child abuse, she brought her concerns about Jenkins to the sheriff's office, she said. According to Wick, the two officers who heard her complaint later told her Jenkins was demoted.

The sheriff's website does not show him working in the domestic abuse unit anymore. The human resources department said he is currently a patrol deputy.

Wick says she does not think the sheriff did enough.

The  sheriff  has not  returned phone calls or emails requesting  comment on the  matter since the complaint was filed.  Staff  members  at the sheriff's office said he  was not  in  the  office Friday.

The county's Board  of Commissioners has the power to call for an investigation into Wick's claims,  but several board members said the  do  not have enough  information  to comment on  the ordeal.

Jenkinsis also  not  returning  requests  for comment.

Wick is seeking damages of more than $10,000. She said she did not pursue  criminal  charges because she was afraid to after her treatment at the sheriff's office when  she made  her initial  complaint against her  husband.