CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago Police officer who was once assigned as former Supt. Eddie Johnson’s driver is suing him for sexual assault and harassment, accusing him of years of “shockingly violent, abusive, and harassing conduct.”
In a lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Officer Cynthia Donald claims Johnson subjected her to “unwanted and uninvited sexual advances, abuse, harassment, and a hostile work environment” for more than three years.
Donald is the driver who was seen out drinking with Johnson at Ceres Cafe hours before he was found slumped over the wheel of his city-issued SUV just blocks from his Bridgeport home on Oct. 16. Mayor Lori Lightfoot eventually fired Johnson as the city’s top cop, accusing him of lying to her and the public about the circumstances of the incident.
The lawsuit comes one day after CBS 2 learned six officers have been dealt suspensions for their role in that incident, which led to Johnson’s dismissal as the city’s top cop.
The lawsuit claims Johnson confessed to Donald that he “damaged or destroyed evidence contained in his cell phone” as the city’s Inspector General was investigating the incident. Donald claimed she left her cell phone on her desk at CPD headquarters, and the inspector general has since claimed the SIM card in her phone was damaged or destroyed.
“In order for Superintendent Johnson to destroy all evidence of his text message and/or email exchanges with [Donald] he would have to destroy the evidence of his sexual assaults and sexual harassment contained in both his cell phone and [Donald’s] cell phone,” the lawsuit states.
The Inspector General earlier this year issued a report finding Johnson drove drunk the night he was found asleep at the wheel, and also allowed Donald to drive drunk that same night, and falsely claimed he ordered an Internal Affairs investigation of his conduct when he never actually did. The findings were part of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson’s second quarter report for 2020, and the Lightfoot administration has refused to release Ferguson’s full report on the Johnson incident.
According to Donald’s lawsuit, Johnson first met her in the summer of 2015 while she was assigned to the 1st District.
“Superintendent Johnson then masterminded a plan to have Plaintiff assigned to his unit so that he could be close to her, keep her under his control, dictate her work hours and schedule, ply her with alcohol, and perpetrate his sexual harassment and abuse of her,” the lawsuit claims.
Donald was assigned to Johnson’s security detail in May 2016, and six months later the superintendent arranged for her to be his personal driver, according to the lawsuit.
“Shortly thereafter, Superintendent Johnson began using his authority as Plaintiff’s supervisor to engage in years of sexually harassing and abusive conduct directed at Plaintiff creating an ongoing pattern of emotional, physical and sexual abuse,” the lawsuit states.
Donald claims Johnson repeatedly texted her nude photos of himself, forcibly kissed and touched her, and forced her to have sex with him.
“Superintendent Johnson used his position of power and authority over Plaintiff to pressure her into engaging in these sexual acts by conditioning her employment and advancements within CPD upon her submission to unwanted and unwelcomed sexual activity, promising her promotions, and berating her whenever she summoned the courage to resist his advances,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit claims Johnson first sexually assaulted Donald in late June or early July of 2016, while Donald was getting ready to drive the superintendent to an event. Donald said Johnson forced her onto a couch in a side room of his personal office, pulled down her pants without her consent, forcibly performed oral sex on her, then ejaculated on her, and told her “now you belong to me.”
Donald said the sexual assaults and harassments continued on a regular basis until the end of 2019, when Johnson was fired as superintendent, and demoted back to the rank of lieutenant, and ultimately retired. According to the lawsuit, Johnson repeatedly forced himself on Donald, sometimes locking her in his office. She also said he would take her on work-related trips, and expect her to have sex with him.
“On occasions during these work-related trips that Plaintiff was able to avoid Superintendent Johnson’s sexual advances, Superintendent Johnson would tell [Donald] that she ‘got away this time,’” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also accuses Johnson of telling Donald she needed to “stay on his good side” while she was studying for the CPD sergeant’s exam if she wanted to make rank, and that he could make it happen.
The lawsuit also accuses Mayor Lightfoot of trying to “deflect blame” from Johnson and herself after the incident when he was found asleep at the wheel of his car, and ordering Johnson to remove Donald from his security detail and send her back to the 1st District.
According to the lawsuit, Johnson declined and instead reassigned her to the records department at Police Headquarters “where he could continue to sexually harass her.”
The lawsuit claims, when Lightfoot ordered Johnson to “dump” Donald, he called the mayor a “b****,” and accused her of “trying to steal ‘my music,’” referring to Donald.
Lightfoot’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.