A Connecticut superior court jury has rejected harassment claims filed by a prison guard who claims she was targeted for discrimination because she is a lesbian. The jury of two women and four men deliberated for a little more than two hours before reaching its verdict Tuesday.
Bonnie L. Duart, 39, of Norwich, had claimed that state Department of Correction officials discriminated against her and then retaliated against her after she filed a complaint with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. Duart, who has been with the prison system since 1988, now is a corrections officer at the Bergin Correctional Institution at Storrs.
According to her lawsuit, her problems began in October 1999, when she was working at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville. At that time, the lawsuit claims, Capt. Duane Kelley told her she was wearing her hair outside her collar against regulations, and he reported to Warden Gurukaur Khalsa that Duart was the girlfriend of another female employee. From that point on, Duart's lawsuit said, Khalsa and Kelley made false and exaggerated allegations against her and harassed her about her hairstyle.
The lawsuit claims that after Duart filed a discrimination complaint in 2000 the harassment got worse. Corrigan-Radgowski officials denied all charges.