‘Blue wall of silence’: When the sexual assault suspect is a police officer

Star Tribune

March 28, 2020

By Briana Bierschbach

Former Pine County Sheriff’s Office clerk is now the face behind a bill to mandate that the BCA investigate allegations of sexual assault by officers.

Elisabeth Samson Lee sat alone in her office one quiet afternoon stuffing envelopes when a co-worker came up behind her, reached into her lap and rubbed his fingers across her crotch before grabbing an envelope.

Horrified, she shot up and pushed her way past the man, who was blocking her cubicle. She then asked to file a police report.

Samson Lee was in the right place: She was a records clerk working for the Pine County sheriff, and the assailant was a sergeant. The same sergeant had grabbed her from behind three weeks earlier, an incident she also reported to her supervisors. Her superiors assured her he would be reprimanded. A report wouldn’t be necessary.

“It’s not like I was going to the newspaper or something,” Samson Lee said. “I was just telling the people around me, watch out for me, protect me, I don’t feel safe here.”

After a long battle with law enforcement agencies and the courts, Samson Lee, a 54-year-old single mother of two, is now the face behind a bill to mandate that allegations of sexual assault by police officers be investigated by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the statewide law enforcement agency.

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