Judge: Suit against ex-police official can go on

/ Source: The Associated Press

A lawsuit alleging that a former deputy police chief promoted female officers in exchange for sexual favors can proceed to trial, a judge tentatively ruled.

Former Deputy Police Chief Michael Berkow, now the police chief in Savannah, Ga., is being sued by a former subordinate who claims her career suffered while other officers who had affairs with him got special treatment.

Attorneys for the city sought to dismiss the lawsuit, saying Sgt. Ya-May Christle's lawyer did not state sufficient facts in the lawsuit to support the allegations.

However, Superior Court Judge William Fahey on Thursday tentatively denied that motion and set a trial date for Sept. 24. He ordered Berkow to come to Los Angeles to give his deposition to Christle's attorney.

Christle's claims against Berkow and the city include sexual harassment and retaliation. Christle contends she was demoted and transferred when she complained.

A call to Clint Robison, an attorney for Berkow and the city, was not immediately returned Thursday.

Berkow was brought to the LAPD in 2003 to reform its disciplinary system. The former Rochester, N.Y., officer and Irvine, Calif., police chief initiated investigations that led to dozens of officers being fired for misconduct.

He became police chief in Savannah in November.

In a lawsuit deposition released in December, Berkow acknowledged he had a three-year "off-duty" affair with a female sergeant under his supervision while heading the department's Professional Standards Bureau.

He said their affair had nothing to do with her promotion to a higher position in another division.