BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic University launched an investigation into allegations that a campus police lieutenant fondled and sexually harassed a co-worker.
The alleged victim filed the complaint Dec. 15, 2011, which was referred to the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs. South Florida Times is not publishing the woman’s name because of the nature of the allegations.
Her complaint was filed against Larry Ervin, then a sergeant. Among other things, she alleged he “put his hand down my shirt and touched my bare breast while saying, ‘Those are nice.’ He then grabbed my hand and put it on his erection while stating that he thinks of me while he masturbates.”
Ervin, who is now a lieutenant, has refuted the allegations and said the investigation was completed “about a month ago.”
“It’s over. It lasted one day and it was unfounded,” Ervin said. “I can’t discuss it or say anything. You will have to call the university but it was all a big mistake.”
That claim could not be confirmed. Paula Behul, director of the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, assigned to handle the complaint, did not respond to questions.
Sources said the complaint was filed with university president Mary Jane Saunders. She too did not respond to questions from South Florida Times about the allegations or the investigation.
Lisa Metcalf, interim director of media relations for the university, said in an email, “Florida Atlantic University does not comment on issues regarding personnel matters.”
According to a copy of the complaint obtained by South Florida Times, the woman is a civilian employee in the police department at the university’s Boca Raton campus.
In her complaint, she expressed fear of retaliation for herself and her husband, who is a police officer at the same campus.
The date of the alleged incident has not been clarified. The allegation was posted on a law enforcement Internet blog.
The woman said that after she reported the alleged incident to her supervisor, she was told Ervin would no longer be allowed to enter her work area but nothing was done to keep him out.
“I reported the incident to my supervisor at the time Russell Sawyer. I was told by him that he would report the incident to Deputy Chief Keith Totten and would report back to me,” states her complaint.
She said she was never requested to provide a formal written account of what had occurred.
“The police department failed to properly investigate this incident. Furthermore nothing was enforced to keep Sgt. Ervin away from me and out of dispatch weeks later.”
She said supervisors later questioned whether Ervin was capable of what she accused him of doing.
“I am uncomfortable in the work environment and feel that Lt. Ervin thinks groping me and harassing me for nude pictures is a big joke,” the complaint reads.
“I am bringing this matter to your attention since it does not seem to be concerning to the Police Departments (sic) administration.”
She said the alleged incident caused her “emotional distress” and she requested help from the university’s employee assistance program “due to a hostile work environment.”
Several colleagues describe Ervin as a popular and hard-working officer. He was hired in 2005 and is paid $56,367.44 a year.
*Pictured above is Florida Atlantic University police leiutenent Larry Ervin