Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Can I wait a few months to pursue a personal injury claim?”
Suzanne Wick and Lisa Mangiardi survived years of horrific physical and psychological abuse at the hands of their husbands. Finally, when both of their husbands threatened to kill them and their children, they turned to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office for assistance and support. While they obtained the relief they sought against their husbands, through various legal processes, they also gained an unwanted stalker-friend named Detective Ben Jenkins.
Both women sued Jenkins in 2012, alleging that he used his position as lead detective in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit to attempt to seduce them. When they rebuffed his solicitations, the women alleged, Jenkins became angry and began stalking and threatening them.
In their complaint against Jenkins and Iredell County Sheriff Phillip H. Redmond, the women asked for damages for violations of their Constitutional rights and for Jenkins to be fired from his position. On Tuesday, they received both. According to Charlotte’s WBTV, the women settled their claims for $475,000. Their lawsuit was dismissed, and Ben Jenkins was dismissed from the sheriff’s office.
The trouble began for Wick when she moved with her husband and four children from Michigan to Mooresville in 2006. Wick alleged that she and her children endured horrific physical and psychological abuse committed by her now ex-husband.
In early 2009, with the assistance of an attorney, Wick went to the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office. Wick’s ex-husband was arrested, and a protective order was entered prohibiting him from contacting Wick and the children.
Within a few weeks of meeting her, Jenkins began calling Wick on his police-issued cell phone. At first, Jenkins offered to support and protect Wick and her children. Then Jenkins began commenting on Wick’s attractiveness and proposed, in often vulgar terms, that the pair engage in various sex acts. The content of Jenkins’ messages—outlined in Wick’s complaint—is too explicit to repeat here.
Wick also alleged that Jenkins compelled her to come to the sheriff’s office to listen to a jail tape of her ex-husband. He told Wick the meeting was necessary in order to continue prosecuting the case against her ex-husband. While they were alone together, Jenkins propositioned Wick. When she rejected Jenkins’ advances, he threatened to have all the charges against Wick’s husband dropped.
In April 2009, Wick reported Jenkins’ conduct to the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office in a taped interview. A few days later, she alleged, the investigating officers told her they had corroborated her story and that Jenkins had been demoted. Wick learned soon thereafter, however, that Jenkins was reinstated and may have been promoted.
Plaintiff Lisa Mangiardi gave a similar account of her encounters with Jenkins. She worked as a criminal court mediator at the Iredell County courthouse and said she knew Jenkins. It was not until she took action against her abusive husband, however, that Jenkins began offering her support. The offers of support soon devolved into demands for sex and numerous instances of unwanted contact and stalking. Mangiardi speculated in her complaint that Jenkins specifically targeted victims of domestic abuse for sexual harassment.
Wick said she will probably never trust another public official. Iredell County Sheriff’s Major Darren Campbell said the department revised its sexual harassment policy in 2012 and now provides training to staff members.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone’s negligent or intentional conduct, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up an appointment today. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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