Sheriff's deputy files suit against Jefferson County department over topless photos

Apr 17, 2012

A female sheriff's deputy in Jefferson County filed a $50 million state Supreme Court lawsuit against the department, its leadership and a detective Monday, claiming a male detective took topless photos of her in 2006, saying they were for use in an online pedophile investigation. The suit claims the deputy never learned how the photos were used and the detective failed to return them when she asked for them. 

Krystal Rice's lawsuit names the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff John Burns, Lieutenant Michael Peterson and Detective Steven Cote, the Watertown Daily Times reports. Rice claims that in 2006, when she had been a deputy for only a few months, Cote approached her about taking photos of her for an official investigation.

She said she was uncomfortable with the idea but went along with it because of Cote's greater experience with the department. She said a contract specified how the photos would be used.

The Watertown Daily Times says the suit claims Lieutenant Peterson approved the idea, but in 2009, when Rice asked for the disk of photos back, he said they'd been destroyed. When she again inquired about the photos in January, Peterson told Rice that the photos never should have been taken.

Rice claims Cote showed her photographs of another female detective wearing halter tops and cutoff shorts, also supposedly for the investigation. She thought she would be wearing similar clothing in the photos, but when she was taken to an isolated location where the photos would be shot, she ended up posing topless and in various stages of undress, the Times reports.

Rice claims the supposed contract the department drew up about the photos can no longer be found. The suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of duty by Sheriff's Department administrators.