California county paid women to keep them quiet after sheriff’s officers allegedly sexually assaulted them

Karen Frye was receiving medical treatment for cancer while in jail in Kern County, California, in 2009, when a sheriff’s officer allegedly began sexually assaulting her. After she reported the assault and participated in a sting operation to catch Deputy Anthony Lavis in the act, the sheriff’s department offered her $1,500 to keep the incident quiet and agree not to sue the department.

Frye was one of eight alleged sexual assault victims whose stories of being offered money by the Kern County Sheriff’s Department were detailed in the latest installment “The County,” The Guardian’s in-depth series documenting abuses of power and force by the department, which The Guardian notes has the highest per capita rate of officer-involved deaths anywhere in the US this year. The two previous installments of the series have investigated fatalities and excessive force. The series is part of an ongoing project by The Guardian called “The Counted” which aims to document and tell the stories of individuals killed by law enforcement in the US in 2015.

“There’s no question in my mind that law enforcement in Kern County have a problem with gender,” said Penny Harrington, a California-based co-founder of the National Center for Women and Policing (NCWP) and the former chief of the Portland, Oregon police bureau.

Read the full story and series, “The County,” at The Guardian.

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