Calif. City Pays Dearly for Harassment of Gay Policeman

Associated Press

Tuesday July 1, 2008

A Huntington Beach police officer received a settlement from the city that could top $2 million to drop a lawsuit that alleged his peers repeatedly harassed him because he is gay.

Adam Bereki received a $150,000 lump payment and will get a $4,000 monthly disability payment for life, according to a settlement approved by the City Council in April.

Bereki, 29, joined the force in 2001 and alleged in the suit that his colleagues frequentlyharassedd him for five years over his sexuality. The suit contends the incidents included someone placing a gay escort ad in Bereki's locker and peers making comments that he only handles gay sex crimes and suggesting that he was infected with HIV.

"It seems from this case that a gay in the cop culture is trouble...," Bereki's attorney, James Trout, said. "They made his life miserable and he couldn't tolerate it anymore."

Bereki said in the suit that he repeatedly complained of the behaviors to supervisors and agreed to go on administrative leave in February 2007.
The city did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the settlement, police spokesman Lt. Dave Bunetta said.

None of the accused officers has been placed on leave, although Police Chief Kenneth Small intends to meet with them later this month. Said Bunetta: "Anyone being harassed or victimized will not be tolerated by the police department."

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.