Fairbanks ex-Air Force sergeant sues Rapid City, SD

Attorneys for Jene Newsome of Fairbanks, Alaska are suing the city of Rapid City, South Dakota for lost wages and retirement benefits because the Rapid City police outed her to officials at Ellsworth Air Force Base after serving a warrant to her spouse. Newsome was honorably discharged in January under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, and came home to Fairbanks.
"Given the city of Rapid City's unwillingness to acknowledge the wrongful and unlawful acts done by Officer (Jeremy) Stauffacher, (Det. Tom) Garinger and other members of the police department, we have no choice but to file a lawsuit against the city of Rapid City in federal court," [Newsome's attorney Jeffrey] Fransen said.

Newsome's case first came to light in March, when the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota sent a letter to Mayor Alan Hanks alleging the police department had violated Newsome's privacy and constitutional rights by sharing information about her sexual orientation with Air Force officials.

In the March 19 letter, ACLU executive director Robert Doody asked the police department to pay damages and issue an apology to Newsome, along with reprimanding the officers involved in the incident and changing department policy to ban the release of information about military members' sexuality.

The incident in question occurred Nov. 20, 2009, when officers, in the course of serving an out-of-state felony arrest warrant on charges of grand theft for Cheryl Hutson, noticed an Iowa marriage certificate with Hutson and Newsome's names on it at their home.

That detail was included in the police report, a document that Garinger later shared with the Office of Special Investigation at Ellsworth. Stauffacher was also involved in the arrest.

Newsome was discharged from the military in January. Under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, service members cannot be asked about their sexual orientation, but evidence of homosexual behavior is grounds for discharge.

The ACLU of South Dakota got involved in February, when it filed a formal complaint against the police department for its role in Newsome's discharge.

Police Chief Steve Allender responded with an internal investigation March 19 that concluded no department policy had been violated by providing the police report to base officials. Allender said it was long-standing policy to share information with the Air Force when a service member's conduct is potentially criminal.
Newsome was not on the warrant and was not being investigated. Her only "crime" was being a lesbian.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" must be repealed!


Anonymous said...

No, I think you've got that wrong. We don't have any gay Alaskans in the military. And we don't have any gay military in Alaska.

We all know that they're over there in Iraq fighting for our freedom of speech. It's just not patriotic that they would be gay. Only Muslims and Quakers are.

E. Ross said...


Copyright © 2008 by Bent Alaska.