A staffer at a Chelsea homeless shelter has filed suit against the city of New York and the shelter itself after being repeatedly harassed and finally groped by clients of the shelter.
Irene Spear, age 42, filed suit against NYC and BRC Shelter on West 25th after she claims to have been assaulted by clients while working for the shelter. Spear had been working for the shelter since 2011. Her job responsibilities included keeping track of about 50 male residents, escorting them to receive medication or to the cafeteria for meals. Spear claims that much of the time she was made to supervise the residents by herself, or else with the assistance of a single other female employee. Spear claims she was always concerned about the security of the shelter, and voiced her concerns to supervisors.
Spear’s suit comes after an incident in April of 2013, when 26 year old Jeorge Smith, a resident of the shelter, groped her butt and leg while she was putting away a chair in the shelter’s T.V. lounge. According the lawsuit, there were no security guards on the floor at the time, and Spear had to escort herself to the office to call the police while Smith followed, laughing the whole time.
This was not Spear’s first encounter with sexual assault while working for the shelter, either. Back in 2012, a male resident forcibly kissed her on her cheek while in an elevator. Spears reported the assault to her supervisor who, for unknown reasons, chose not to report the incident to the police.
Since the latest attack, Spear is unable to work and is undergoing therapy to cope with panic attacks. She claims to have fallen on financial hardship as a result of the lawsuit and is now homeless herself.
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