Anchorage, Alaska – The ACLU of Alaska is seeking justice for Clarice Hardy and other women residing in Nome who’ve been failed by local police. 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 Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, our team sent a letter to Nome officials, on behalf of Hardy, 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 filed 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.
Hardy attempted to continue her meaningful employment for the people of Nome, but was discharged from her position when it sunk in that those she trusted, officers of the law, had betrayed and gravely failed her.
This inexcusable act of sexual violence and disregard for Hardy is not unique. It is only one example of the Nome Police Department’s systematic failure. This has been documented in an ongoing audit of approximately 460 open sexual assault complaints made to the Nome PD between 2005 and 2018. So far, this audit has brought 76 cases alleging first-and-second degree sexual assault to the District Attorney’s office for review and further investigation.
The ACLU of Alaska recognizes steps the City of Nome has taken to bring greater transparency to its police department’s practices in the future, through the establishment of the Nome Public Safety Advisory Commission, but the commission cannot repair damages done, nor does it have the authority to prevent such abuses by bad actors in the future.