State Police Sued in Ex-Employee's Harassment Case; A Former State Police Dispatcher in Westmoreland County Who Alleged She Was Sexually Harassed by a Trooper in 2015 Says Agency Officials Should Have Known of Prior Harassment Involving the Trooper and That He "Had a Proclivity toward Engaging in Sexually Hostile Behavior toward Women," According to a Federal Lawsuit. [Derived Headline]

By Peirce, Paul | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 23, 2017 | Go to article overview

State Police Sued in Ex-Employee's Harassment Case; A Former State Police Dispatcher in Westmoreland County Who Alleged She Was Sexually Harassed by a Trooper in 2015 Says Agency Officials Should Have Known of Prior Harassment Involving the Trooper and That He "Had a Proclivity toward Engaging in Sexually Hostile Behavior toward Women," According to a Federal Lawsuit. [Derived Headline]


Peirce, Paul, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


A former state police dispatcher in Westmoreland County who alleged she was sexually harassed by a trooper in 2015 says agency officials should have known of prior harassment involving the trooper and that he "had a proclivity toward engaging in sexually hostile behavior toward women," according to a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed by Casey E. Bilik, 30, of New Alexandria, who worked at the Kiski station. She seeks unspecified damages against the state police, alleging her co-workers and supervisors retaliated after she made a harassment complaint against Trooper Eric D. Zona for an incident on Oct. 16, 2015.

Zona, 46, of North Huntingdon was charged with misdemeanor counts of indecent assault and open lewdness after he allegedly exposed himself to Bilik at the state police merchandise store at the Greensburg barracks. He died Oct. 20 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 31.

Zona, a 19-year veteran who had worked at stations in Belle Vernon, Kiski and Greensburg, had pleaded not guilty.

In the lawsuit, Bilik alleges that after the criminal case involving her was publicized, 12 other women reported similar misconduct by Zona to District Attorney John Peck's office.

Bilik claims in the lawsuit that the hostile work environment forced her to quit. She seeks damages for emotional distress, lost wages, humiliation and other injuries, plus attorneys fees.

According to the lawsuit, Zona was disciplined by state police in 2008 for making sexual advances toward a woman at an unnamed gas station when he worked at the Belle Vernon barracks. He was transferred to Kiski in 2014.

In another prior incident, state police officials knew of a "woman who worked at a bank (who) had reported Zona had sent her pictures of his penis via text message," the lawsuit alleges.

"The civil case is not about Eric Zona per se," Bilik's attorney, Christine T. Elzer of Pittsburgh, said Tuesday. "It is about the state police response following previous incidents reported by civilians (before Bilik's incident). They had notice of this type of behavior, and state police, as an institution, allowed it to continue."

Joe Grace, communications director for state Attorney General Josh Shapiro's office in Harrisburg, declined to comment because the litigation is ongoing. The office is defending state police in the civil lawsuit as required by law.

In its formal answer to Bilik's complaint, Deputy Attorney General Timothy Mazzocca said state police admit Zona was suspended for an unspecified time in 2008 "after making advances to a woman in a gas station." The agency concedes that in another case it received information that "Trooper Zona had sent a photo of his penis in a text message. …

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State Police Sued in Ex-Employee's Harassment Case; A Former State Police Dispatcher in Westmoreland County Who Alleged She Was Sexually Harassed by a Trooper in 2015 Says Agency Officials Should Have Known of Prior Harassment Involving the Trooper and That He "Had a Proclivity toward Engaging in Sexually Hostile Behavior toward Women," According to a Federal Lawsuit. [Derived Headline]
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