WASHINGTON - “It’s really ugly and it’s something that really needs to be uncovered and dealt with head on.”
That is what Sherree Lee said she is doing. She is revealing what she calls a systemic cover up for misconduct and sexual harassment in the workplace. It is an experience that is now personal for her.
“He’s standing in front of me with his penis in my face, his pants and he grabs me by the back of my hair and he pulls my head forward towards his penis,” Lee said.
Lee is a retired Prince George's County police officer. She currently works at an office park as a polygraph examiner for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. The alleged incident happened back in January 2017 and she said she reported it immediately.
“I knocked his hand out of the way screaming, yelling and cussing at him – ‘Why did you touch me like that? Why did you do that?’” she recalled. “And a co-worker, she is sitting right there."
Documents show supervisors were aware of the incident, but Lee believes the matter was downplayed – even before a judge. Co-worker after co-worker testified before a Howard County judge in December 2017, which were recorded on the record.
Lawyer: “Did there come a point in time where an incident between Ms. Lee and Mr. Miango of a somewhat sexual nature or an assault got reported to you?”
A supervisor described the office: “We have a very touchy feely office where people touch regularly.”
In the days following the incident, the same supervisor sent an email to Jacques Miango, the co-worker accused of inappropriately touching Lee.
The email says, “Although myself and Nicole are more relaxed in our interactions with you, other women in the office are not accepting of any type of physical contact.”
According to the agency’s own directives, investigating employee misconduct must happen as soon as possible, but no more than 24 hours after notification. An email from the agency’s director shows an administrative investigation was not opened until November, 10 months after the initial complaint.
The department's Office of Equal Opportunity partially substantiated the allegations saying there was probable cause that Miango ran his fingers through her hair, but could not substantiate other allegations of harassment.
Lee maintains that Miango stalked and harassed her from January until the end of 2017 when she obtained a stay-away order. Miango denied those allegations in court – allegations that co-workers found amusing.
Witness: “When she first told me about it, I think I chuckled or laughed.
Lawyer: “How did she seem to you? Her behavior whens he was confiding in you?”
Witness: “Well, she seemed upset about it.”
Miango has been formally charged with second-degree assault and harassment for this incident.
“Since then I have been retaliated against,” Lee said. “My performance evaluation has been lowered. My supervisor told me to my face that she gave me a lower rating in getting along with others because the way I made my complaint was inappropriate."
She added, “They were friendly with me before and now I walk in and I get the silent treatment, cold shoulder, and I expected them to come in and say, ‘Are you okay? How are you doing?’”
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services told FOX 5 in part, "Ms. Lee’s complaint about the conduct of one of her co-workers was immediately addressed by supervisors. Subsequently, a full investigation was conducted by the Department’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, and remedial action was taken to address the issue. In addition, the department has initiated targeted training to ensure full compliance with its anti-harassment policy and reporting procedures. At no time was Ms. Lee retaliated against for complaining about workplace harassment."
We asked the department if Miango was still employed by the state of Maryland, but the question was never answered.
FOX 5 has reached out to Miango for comment, but have not heard back as of Wednesday night.