by Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM
(Note: National Native News has a policy to not name sexual assault accusers, but in this case Clarice Hardy has shared her story publicly in a variety of sources, including public meetings, news outlets and social media. Her decision to go public has been instrumental in getting others to come forward and in holding officials accountable)
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska filed suit against the City of Nome, former Nome Police Chief John Papasadora, and former Lieutenant Nicholas Harvey on behalf of former dispatcher, Clarice “Bun” Hardy. Hardy, an Alaska Native woman, reported her sexual assault In 2017, to then Lieutenant Nick Harvey. She said he failed to properly investigate her case.
The ACLU complaint calls Hardy’s case part of a “systemic and ongoing failure to protect Alaska Native women from sexual abuse and assault” on behalf of the City and Nome police. Kendri Cesar, one of the lawyers representing Hardy, spoke at a press conference in Anchorage the day the ACLU announced the lawsuit:
“As we proceed with our case, we will be seeking to learn through the discovery process just how deep and systemic these cases go,” Cesar said. “Our case is filed at a federal court in Nome and we have asked for a jury trial to be held there. Ms. Hardy and all the other women on whose behalf this lawsuit is filed deserve to have a jury in their community hear the claims and determine the outcome.”
Hardy is the only plaintiff listed on the complaint, but the ACLU believes her case is not isolated. Hardy says that since she went public with her experience, others have reached out to her.
“I can’t undue the harm done to the hundreds of women the Nome Police department has failed to help, but maybe I can stop this from happening again,” Hardy said.
Nome City Manager Glenn Steckman said he will not comment on any litigation, saying that is the responsibility of the City’s lawyers.