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Judge dismisses sexual assault suit brought by Chicago police officer against superintendent

CHICAGO — A federal judge Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Chicago police officer that alleged sexual assault by former police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who was out drinking with her the night he was found asleep behind the wheel of his SUV.

U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo made the decision without going to trial.

Officer Cynthia Donald, who was assigned to Johnson’s security detail, filed the lawsuit in 2020. Both were married to other people at the time.

“The basic problem with Donald’s claim is that virtually all the evidence of her conduct suggests that she welcomed and was an active participant in her relationship with Johnson,” the judge wrote.

Johnson’s attorney, Michael Leonard, said in a statement that the court “clearly got it right.”

“Mr. Johnson has always owned up to and acknowledged that he engaged in a consensual relationship with Ms. Donald,” the statement said. “The Court rightfully found that Ms. Donald’s claims of sexual harassment were meritless under the circumstances presented — where Ms. Donald admitted in the litigation to engaging in acts, statements, and conduct that undeniably caused Mr. Johnson to reasonably believe that the parties were in fact engaged in a consensual relationship.”

Donald’s attorney Robert McLaughlin, issued a statement saying “we are disappointed” with the ruling and that an appeal was planned.

Donald’s lawsuit alleged Johnson sexually harassed her, pressured her to engage in sexual acts and even texted nude photos of himself to her between 2016 and 2019 after he assigned her to his detail and then as his driver.

“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 (the Chicago Police Department) 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 alleged.

Former Mayor Lori Johnson fired Johnson in December 2019 for what she said were lies about his actions. While Johnson admitted to the mayor that he’d had “a couple of drinks” that night, he blamed his condition on a change in blood pressure medication. Later, media reports and surveillance video from a Chicago bar that night revealed he had been drinking heavily.

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