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Lawsuit: Woman Accuses Darien Police Chief of Sexual Assault, Retaliation

In her lawsuit against the city of Chicago, Centeria Moore-Powell accuses Ernest Brown of discriminating against her. Brown was her supervisor in 2005 when they worked for the Chicago Police Department.

Darien Police Chief Ernest Brown was with the Chicago Police Department for 28 years. Credit: Patch photo archives.
Darien Police Chief Ernest Brown was with the Chicago Police Department for 28 years. Credit: Patch photo archives.

A Cook County woman has accused the Darien police chief of sexually assaulting and harassing her when he was a Chicago Police Department commander, according to a lawsuit filed this summer.

Ernest Brown was named in Centeria Moore-Powell's lawsuit against the city of Chicago for sex discrimination and retaliation. She claims Brown, her former supervisor, sexually assaulted, harassed and reassigned her to another district because she is a female, according to the lawsuit.

Moore-Powell also accuses the city of failing to investigate and take remedial action on her complaints about Brown because she is a female.

Moore-Powell seeks damages in excess of $300,000, in addition to compensatory damages, back pay, loss of earnings and benefits and attorney’s fees and costs of the lawsuit, according to the written complaint filed June 13.

Brown refused to respond on July 25 to the allegations described in the lawsuit when a Patch editor told him about it by phone. When Brown said he hadn't seen the complaint, a copy was offered to him.

"If there's pending litigation involving the city of Chicago, I wouldn't be comfortable making a comment on it," he said.

Brown in September 2011 denied that he was ever the subject of a sexual harassment complaint when he was on the Chicago force, saying "It is not in my moral fiber." Brown also addressed two unrelated lawsuits at the same 2011 Darien City Council meeting prior to his appointment as police chief.

Moore-Powell was promoted to Chicago Police sergeant in 2000 after 15 years with the force. She was regularly assigned the third-watch shift and in March of 2005 complained to Brown’s superiors that he had sexually assaulted, harassed and subjected her to retaliatory actions, according to the complaint. She issued the same complaints in September and October of 2005.

The lawsuit said on April 1, 2005, the city of Chicago had Moore-Powell submit to a psychological evaluation and placed her on an involuntary unpaid medical leave. Then on Jan. 17, 2006, Brown told Moore-Powell that she would be transferred to another district against her request and work the midnight shift when she returned.

In the lawsuit, Moore-Powell said the retaliation she experienced is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Prior to the lawsuit, Moore-Powell said she filed sex discrimination and retaliation charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The complaint did not include further details on Moore-Powell’s allegations. Her attorney, Denise M. Mercherson, did not return a call July 25 seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The initial court date for this case is set for Aug. 13 in Chicago, according to federal court records.

View and download the full complaint as a PDF on this page above the start of the story.

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Michael Thomas July 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM
I know this didn't happen in Darien but it doesn't look good for our city. Just another negative thing the city needs to address.
Karen Barry July 30, 2013 at 02:01 PM
The whole story sounds funny. She filed all these charges & none of the agencies acted on them? Seems like she is seeking out a payday. But if it is found that he was not truthful when answering to the Darien Council then he should resign.
Ralph "Cash" Beardsley July 30, 2013 at 07:28 PM
I think clearly it's too early to tell what the deal is on this. It could be substantive or she could simply be a BS-filled gold digger. Be patient folks- and the truth hopefully will emerge.
Steven Hayes July 31, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Is there a better link to the complaint?
RW Young July 31, 2013 at 11:38 AM
I worked along side Moore Powell. She is nuts to the highest order. Seriously something wrong with her. She filed complaints every single day against people if they said Hi in the wrong tone to her. She filed an EEOC complaint against me even though we are the same rank and EEOC told her to go away basically. She has had so much of her bad actions "thrown under the rug". She is a bigot and a hater.
Michael Thomas July 31, 2013 at 03:37 PM
RW, a couple things, if she is as crazy as you say she is why did she ever get promoted? Does she still work for the police department? I don't know the answer but if she is so crazy why wouldn't they get rid of her? I don't know who is wrong or right but to throw sexual assault out there is pretty bold. I would like to think chief Brown Is not involved in this but dealing with Chicago things are just different like our Mayors go to prison.
L Hayes August 01, 2013 at 08:47 AM
She's not as crazy as some would have you to believe. I worked with her too. Slightly off ? Perhaps. But that has nothing to do with whether or not the events as stated actually happened. The vast majority of people I know say it probably did. Former colleagues of mine laughed hilariously when they read that Brown stated it wasn't part of his moral fiber to do such things. One even stated "well he probably didn't lie to them because he has no moral fiber." Brown was know as serial womanizer on the CPD and multiple complaints lodged against him by various women at many different point in time in his career which never saw the light of day. Many of us thought you out there may have uncovered it but presumably CPD has it all on lockdown. Probably take an FOI request. Brown has a pretty sordid history on that level if anyone chooses to do some digging. He lied to you all outright. They say if you tell a lie make it a big one. He laid a whopper on you guys out there. Hilarious when we all read his comments. Good luck on that one Darien.
Charles Menchaca August 01, 2013 at 02:10 PM
@Steven Hayes, thanks for mentioning this. I re-embedded the PDF of the complaint at the top of the story. The italicized text at the bottom of the story should now take you straight to the download. Sorry for the confusion. Here is the direct link as well: http://www.scribd.com/document_downloads/157480350?extension=pdf&from=embed&source=embed

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