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Former Central Falls dispatcher accuses officer of sexual assault, others of harassment

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Central Falls Police Department headquarters_228987

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — A former dispatcher in Central Falls has filed a federal lawsuit, accusing one veteran police officer of sexually assaulting her and a half dozen others of sexual harassment.

The plaintiff alleges she was sexually assaulted in September 2011 by Detective Omar Ospina who according to the complaint “acknowledged the assault by apologizing to Ms. Baxter through the CFPD’s internal email system.”

Ospina, who has not responded to requests for comment, was not charged with a crime following an investigation by Rhode Island State Police.

In addition to Ospina, Chief Daniel Barzykowski and Sergeant Joseph Tougas are named in the lawsuit, along with the City of Centrall Falls and Mayor James Diossa in his capacity as the Chief Executive of the City of Central Falls.

The lawsuit states Tougas “frequently stated that [the plaintiff] preferred the genitalia of black men.”

Tougas also allegedly made a statement she was “playing with her breasts and causing another officer to become sexually aroused,” according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiff alleges the harassment continued through 2017, and at one point during a sexual harassment training session.

“During the February 2017 sexual harassment training, police officers were openly laughing, joking, and whispering audibly sexual comments,” the lawsuit states.

Chris Hunter, a spokesperson for Central Falls said the city was notified of the “disturbing claims” in April 2018.

According to Hunter, Mayor Diossa issued an immediate directive to his staff and requested an independent investigation by attorney William O’Gara.

Hunter said, “The City of Central Falls, through legal representation from the Interlocal Trust, will defend against and seek dismissal of this lawsuit.”

The attorney for the plaintiff said he did not want to comment at this time.

So far, there have been no responses to emails sent to officers named in the lawsuit.

If you have something for Target 12 to investigate send Walt an email at wbuteau@wpri.com and you can follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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