UPDATE: On Thursday, February 20, 2020, the ACLU of Alaska, the ACLU's Racial Justice Program, and Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Miller & Monkman, LLP filed suit against the City of Nome, Alaska and the former law enforcement officials who, in a display of systemic bias against Alaska Native women, failed to investigate hundreds of sexual assaults reported to the Nome Police Department, including Clarice "Bun" Hardy's.
On Sept. 24, 2019 the ACLU of Alaska sent a letter to Nome officials, demanding justice for for Clarice “Bun” Hardy and numerous other Alaska Native women disregarded by the local police department. This systemic, decades long indifference toward Alaska Native women, on behalf of the Nome Police Department, has resulted in nearly crippling trauma for Hardy and countless others. On behalf of Hardy, the ACLU of Alaska is seeking $500,000 in damages for Hardy’s pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost wages. This is vindication for Hardy and other Alaska Native women deprived of their Equal Protection rights as guaranteed by the United States and Alaska Constitutions.
Hardy was working as a police dispatcher in March 2017 when she was raped in her home. Hardy filled a complaint with a trusted colleague, Lt. Nick Harvey. Despite Hardy’s complaint and video evidence, the Nome Police Department failed to investigate her claims. Her complaint documenting an act of sexual violence never even received a case number. After months of inaction, Hardy followed up with then-police Chief John Papasadora. She learned there was no record of her complaint and was told she’d have to submit it again. She was devastated but followed Papasadora’s direction. Chief Papasadora continued the trail of inaction and mistreatment when he told Hardy the case would be forwarded to Alaska State Troopers. In May of 2018, she followed up with the Troopers only to learn the report had never been forwarded. In the state’s attempt to investigate, they faced significant hurdles caused by the Nome Police Department’s failure to initiate an adequate investigation that resulted in the loss of objective, corroborating evidence.
The Nome Police Department’s failure caused Hardy debilitating emotional distress. While the specific act of sexual assault was traumatizing, she was revictimized by Chief Papasadora and Lt. Harvey. She now suffers from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, persistent nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks.
In early-October, the City of Nome replied to the demand letter with a callous deflection. The ACLU of Alaska continues to fight for justice.