A 27-year-old woman has accused a Nassau County police officer of sexually abusing her while she was in police custody two years ago and alleged the police department later covered it up.
Jenny Hannigan filed a federal lawsuit against the officer, Gary Zima, who she claimed put his hand up her dress while she was handcuffed in the backseat of a patrol car while another officer drove them to the Fourth Precinct station house in Hewlett after she was arrested for drunken driving June 10, 2011.
“I was shocked,” Hannigan, who worked for Fox television until recently, told reporters Monday at a news conference. “He put his fingers inside of me for a length of time.”
Amy Marion of Garden City-based Barket, Marion, Epstein and Kearon, LLP represents Hannigan in the suit seeking $150,000 in damages for excessive force as well as violations of Hannigan’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
“It’s criminal conduct and yet these officers are not being brought up on…charges,” Marion said while seated beside her client.
The suit also names the officer behind the wheel, Rachel Miller—who Hannigan said failed to stop the alleged attack—the internal affairs detective who investigated her complaint and unnamed police supervisors.
A Nassau police spokesman said the department does not comment on pending litigation but noted that Zima is still on the job in the Fourth Precinct.
The suit claims that Zima texted Hannigan two days after the alleged sex crime to ask how she was doing. She said that she did not reply.
Hannigan notes that she still has respect for the police, but is uncomfortable when she sees patrol cars in her neighborhood and no longer feels safe.
She said the alleged sex abuse occurred after she was treated at Nassau University Medal Center for a leg injury she suffered while initially being put in the back of a patrol car.
Hannigan pleaded guilty at First District Court in May to driving while intoxicated and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 4.
The allegations are said to have occurred the same year another Nassau cop, who has since quit, pleaded guilty to official misconduct after being charged with making a woman touch his penis during a traffic stop and a year before a Nassau jail guard was convicted of sexually abusing numerous female inmates.