Suit: Iredell officer stalked domestic violence victim

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

CHARLOTTE (AP) — A second North Carolina woman has come forward with allegations that she was sexually harassed by the former head of the Iredell County sheriff’s domestic violence unit.
Lisa Mangiardi said she sought help from the Iredell County sheriff’s office in 2008. At first, detective Richard Jenkins III offered to help with her case. But then, she said, he began propositioning her and began stalking her.
Mangiardi was added today to a lawsuit filed in March by Suzanne Wick. Wick also said Jenkins abused his authority by sexually harassing and propositioning her.
At the time, Jenkins was head of the sheriff’s office domestic violence and sexual assault unit. Jenkins has been demoted, but the women want him fired.
The lawsuit seeks more than $10,000 in damages for emotional distress. Sheriff Phillip Redmond also is named as a defendant.
“Sadly, based on Lisa and Suzanne’s experiences, Jenkins deliberately targets domestic violence victims because they are desperate and more vulnerable to abuse,” the lawsuit said.
Telephone messages left for Jenkins and Redmond were not immediately returned.
Mangiardi said her husband was verbally and physically abusive to her and their children during a seven-year marriage, according to the lawsuit. Afraid for their safety, she asked the sheriff’s office domestic violence unit for help on May 29, 2008. On that date, she received a domestic violence protection order. A week later, she met Jenkins, who offered his support and assistance.
But at that point, Mangiardi, who is a criminal court mediator in Iredell County, said Jenkins began sexually harassing her.
“He hounded her with incessant, unwelcomed phone calls,” the lawsuit said.
Jenkins also tried to orchestrate meetings for the “sole purpose of trying to get her to have sex with him,” the lawsuit said.
At the time, she was afraid to speak out against Jenkins because she was already afraid of her former husband.
“Because of the long term sexual harassment and stalking… she suffered extreme anxiety and depression and was diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)” the lawsuit said.
Her lawyer Joshua Van Kampen said Mangiardi decided to come forward after Wick filed her lawsuit.
In an earlier interview, Wick told the AP that she was shocked by Jenkins’ behavior.
“I was terrified. This was not supposed to happen. They were supposed to be protecting us. We go (to the police) for protection. That’s what we’re counting on. … But that didn’t happen,” Wick said.
Wick said she turned to the sheriff’s office in January 2009 after her abusive husband threatened to kill her family. Like Mangiardi, Jenkins was assigned to the case.
But soon the harassment began, Wick said.
A month later, Jenkins began calling her “repeatedly throughout the day, including late at night, using his police-issued cell phone,” the lawsuit said.
At first, he would talk about the case, but over time, the messages became sexually explicit. The lawsuit said it continued during meetings at the sheriff’s office when they were alone.
In April 2009, Wick’s attorney notified the sheriff’s office. Two deputies corroborated her story and the sheriff demoted Jenkins.
Wick said she was afraid to speak out until after her husband pleaded guilty in January to domestic violence charges and was sentenced to nearly four years.