IREDELL COUNTY, NC – Two survivors of domestic violence who sued the Iredell County Sheriff and one of his deputies finally got what they wanted: Deputy Ben Jenkins has been dismissed from the force. Sheriff Philip Redmond made the decision at the conclusion of the lawsuit, which was dismissed in federal court Tuesday. It was dismissed because a settlement had been reached worth $475,000.
Suzanne Wick and Lisa Mangiardi said Deputy Jenkins repeatedly harassed and stalked them during their most vulnerable time. The women were trying to escape abusive husbands and feared for their lives. That’s when they met Deputy Jenkins. He worked in the Special Victims Unit, which oversees domestic violence cases. They said Jenkins abused his power and authority to try and advance a sexual relationship.
“I was scared and very nervous,” Mangiardi said. “I needed support and help and protection. I thought, is this some type of sick joke?” said Mangiardi talking about the unwanted sexual advances. She came forward after hearing about Wick’s case. Both women claimed Sheriff Redmond is responsible for not managing and supervising his employee. While Mangiardi says she never complained to the Department, Wick did. Wick said she only felt safe to file the lawsuit once her ex-husband was safely prosecuted. She says Jenkins threatened to drop the charges against him if she didn’t stay quiet.
A spokesperson for the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office said Sheriff Redmond is working on a full and complete statement, but it will not be ready for a few more days. Major Darren Campbell said the department revised its sexual harassment policy in 2012 and provided training for staff members. Wick said the lawsuit’s conclusion was bittersweet. She said it doesn’t feel like a huge weight has been lifted from her shoulders. “That’s not what happens with people who have been abused or been through the things I’ve been through,” she said quietly. “I’ll never trust another public official,” she said.
When learning about Jenkins’ dismissal, their attorney Josh Van Kampen said one word,”Finally.” Van Kampen, Sean Hermann and Carlos Mahoney filed the lawsuit in federal court. They deposed Jenkins, Redmond, and expert witnesses. Those interviews became evidence in the case.