HIV-positive woman alleges harassment by caseworker

Posted on 06 Jul 2006 at 6:40pm
By Associated Press

Lawsuit claims employee of AIDS Outreach Center of Greater Tarrant County threatened to cut off benefits unless he received sexual favors

FORT WORTH An HIV-positive woman alleges a caseworker at the AIDS Outreach Center of Greater Tarrant County coerced her to have sex by threatening to take away her benefits and report her to Child Protective Services.

The 26-year-old woman filed a lawsuit against the center, where she met the caseworker after seeking help in early 2005.

“Its a pretty nasty deal,” said the woman’s attorney, Todd Turner. “I wouldn’t have filed this type of case if I didn’t feel we had a strong case.”

The center’s executive director, Dara Austin, wouldn’t discuss the allegations or say whether the caseworker was still employed there.

The woman still receives services from the agency, Turner said.

In court filings, the woman alleges she felt forced to have sex with the caseworker after he threatened to cut off some of her benefits, including housing and utility help.

The caseworker also told her if she didn’t have sex with him, he would tell Child Protective Services she wasn’t providing her three children with adequate housing.

The lawsuit also says the caseworker sent the woman “extremely sexually suggestive and harassing” text messages and made threatening telephone calls.

After the woman reported the caseworker to superiors, the agency investigated, but its insurance carrier declined to reach a settlement, Turner said.

The woman hasn’t ruled out lodging a criminal complaint with police, he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 7, 2006.

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