Woman at the center of Lakeland sex scandal says she was the victim

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LAKELAND, Fla. —

The woman at the center of a sex scandal at the Lakeland Police Department says she is the victim.

Her lawyer held a news conference and said his client told him sexual misconduct was rampant throughout the police department Wednesday afternoon.

His client, Sue Eberle, is filing sexual harassment charges against the department.

The report filed by the State's Attorney's Office details sexual encounters between Eberle and several of her colleagues. Eberle said some of the encounters were against her will.

Eberle sat with her husband Wednesday afternoon as her lawyer described what she said fueled years of sexual misconduct.

"The acts that occurred as fully detailed in the state's attorney report reveal a sickening and relentless sexual assault and battery on Sue Eberle in the workplace and beyond," said David Linesch, Eberle's lawyer.

The encounters detailed in the report involve nude photo exchanges, sexual advances, and sexual encounters, on city property and in city issued vehicles.

"I have rarely ever seen such a sexually toxic and hostile work environment," said Linesch at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

For 13 years, Eberle worked at several government agencies and while she admits to allowing some of the misconduct to take place, her lawyer said the repeated unwanted advances by a number of her colleagues was exhausting.

"After a while, it was easier to say 'yes' than 'no.' They were so relentless and wore her down," said Linesch.

The report also details the sexual abuse Eberle says she endured as a child, and as an adult she viewed sex as a form of intimidation. Many of the claims involve high-ranking officers both off and on-duty.

"The sheer conduct and volume of misconduct and sexual assault clearly gives rise to a plethora of legal claims," said Linesch.

The claims have led several city employees to quit, while almost a dozen others are under an internal investigation.

"The first evening we met, the first thing out of her mouth was, 'I don't want this to happen to anyone else,'" said Linsech.

No criminal charges have been filed, but a spokesperson for Lakeland said several policies have been broken so they have launched an internal investigation.