Eddie Johnson

Former Supt. Eddie Johnson Denies Officer's Claims Alleging Years of Sexual Misconduct

Johnson denied the claims Thursday night after his former officer filed a lawsuit earlier that day

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Former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson denied claims Thursday from an officer on his security detail alleging years of sexual assault and harassment.

Cynthia Donald, who worked for Johnson's security detail and was with the disgraced top cop the night he was found slumped over the wheel of his car, filed a lawsuit claiming Johnson sexually assaulted and harassed her for years as he served in his leadership role.

"The allegations of sexual assault and harassment made by Ms. Donald never happened. Her claims are not only patently false, they are egregiously dehumanizing towards those who have truly suffered harassment in the workplace and are an affront to everything I believe in and stand for. I pray for Ms. Donald's well being and look forward to the opportunity where the facts can be presented," Johnson said in a statement to NBC 5.

The Chicago officer filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the one-time highest-ranking officer in Chicago of forcing her to perform sexual acts and sending her nude photos, among other alleged incidents.

"Superintendent Johnson used his position of power and authority over [Donald] 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 suit states, naming both the former top cop as well as the city.

Donald has been at the center of an investigation into Johnson following a highly-publicized incident that took place almost one year exactly from the date she filed her suit.

An attorney for Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations made in the suit.

The city of Chicago has released body camera footage and other documentation related to the night former police Supt. Eddie Johnson was found slumped over the wheel of his SUV in October 2019. NBC 5's Natalie Martinez has the story.

The lawsuit alleges the harassment began in 2016, when Johnson appointed Donald to his unit and later made her his personal driver "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."

In late June or early July, Donald was scheduled to drive Johnson to an event and was getting dressed in a room.

"While [Donald] was readying herself for the event, Supt. Johnson entered the room, forced [her] onto a nearby couch, pulled [her] pants down without her consent, and forcibly performed unwanted oral sex on her," the suit states, adding that Johnson later told her "now you know you belong to me."

After that, the suit alleges Johnson on multiple occasions "forcibly pried" open her legs and performed oral sex on her while on city property, refused to let her leave his office until she performed sexual acts on him, sent her nude photos and forced her to perform sexual acts in his hotel rooms while on work-related trips, despite her repeated calls for him to stop.

It claims he would tell her things like “the city owes you another check for making my workday easier," “you get me through this job," and “you gonna give me some and like it.”

At one point, the suit claims, Johnson learned Donald was interested in taking the CPD Sergeant's exam and told her she needed to "stay on his good side" if she wanted to succeed.

"Superintendent Johnson repeatedly told [Donald] that 'the list of favors' that [Donald] owed him was growing longer with each person he moved to a different unit to clear the way for [Donald] to be promoted to Sergeant," the suit states.

On Oct. 16, 2019, Donald was with Johnson at a restaurant hours before he was found slumped over the wheel of his car in what ultimately became a scandal that led to his firing.

According to her suit, Donald said she was ordered to dinner by Johnson that evening.

Johnson initially blamed the incident on a change in blood pressure medication, but the Office of the Inspector General later issued a scathing report saying that was not the case.

“The superintendent drove a city vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, consumed alcohol before using a city vehicle, committed various traffic violations, allowed a supervisee to use a city vehicle after consuming alcohol, and made false public statements and a material omission regarding the incident,” the report states.

The report states the OIG obtained video footage showing Johnson and a CPD police officer, later identified as Donald, who worked as his driver and security detail, consuming several large servings of rum at a downtown establishment.

That footage shows Johnson and Donald getting into a vehicle and driving away with Johnson at the wheel, according to the report.

The Inspector General’s report says Johnson dropped off Donald at CPD headquarters at 10:30 p.m., allowing her to drive away in her assigned city vehicle.

Nine minutes later, footage shows Johnson at 34th and Aberdeen, parked illegally with his vehicle running, where police found him when they arrived at 12:33 a.m.

After Oct. 16, the lawsuit claims Donald was targeted during the investigation, with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot directing Johnson to "dump" her and move her to another district in a demotion.

Johnson instead moved her to the records department at CPD headquarters and continued to harass her, according to the suit. CPD officials confirmed her transfer at the time, but did not say if it was connected to the investigation.

The lawsuit states that Johnson told Donald he destroyed evidence on his phone during the investigation. When she was asked to hand over her phone in the investigation, she said she left it on her desk and was later told the SIM card had been damaged or destroyed.

A police spokesman at the time said the phone had been "noticeably damaged and the SIM card was missing or damaged.'' She was then placed under investigation for evidence tampering.

Johnson, who was named superintendent in 2016 and announced his retirement in November, was fired by Lightfoot in December for “ethical lapses." He later admitted a “lapse of judgement,” but said he would let his reputation for integrity earned during more than 30 years as a police officer speak for itself.

Johnson reverted to his former rank of lieutenant and resigned from CPD two days later. He is on the city’s ineligible for rehire list.

“We are aware of the lawsuit filed by Cynthia Donald against Mr. Johnson and the city," a city law department spokesman said in a statement. "Mr. Johnson was terminated from his role as superintendent in connection with his conduct during the events of October 16-17, 2019. We cannot comment on the specific allegations, which, if true, would be inexcusable. Mayor Lightfoot emphatically denies, and common sense dictates, that Eddie Johnson ever told the Mayor about allegations of abuse or harassment of Cynthia Donald by Eddie Johnson. Ms. Donald’s lawyers never claimed otherwise.”

The suit states that Donald suffers from PTSD, anxiety, depression, repeated nightmares and more. It seeks an undisclosed amount of damages.

Read the full lawsuit here. (Warning: graphic details)

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