A former firefighter is suing the U.S. Forest Service, claiming her former co-workers sexually harassed and physically assaulted her. 30-year-old Alicia Dabney says the agency did nothing about it when she came forward, and now she is out of a job.
Dabney became a firefighter because, she says, it was her childhood dream. "I've always wanted to do this since I was little," she said.
Dabney was excited to work for the U.S. Forest Service in a profession dominated by men.
"There was a lot of sexual harassment, discrimination, assault. I had been physically assaulted by a man. The worst thing was when my supervisor put me in a chokehold and me having to beg, you're my boss, this isn't okay," said Dabney.
Dabney says she has voicemails from former co-workers, that backup her complaints.
"Alicia., it's me. So what are you doing baby girl? My **** is half-stacked, I'm ready to go. I'm in Room 203. Hold on a second. I'm totally ready to **** you and hang up, baby girl," said one man in a voicemail.
"Hey Alicia, it's ****. I just wanted to apologize for my friends. I feel bad. I don't know whatever they said to you. I don't want to be associated with that," said another man.
Dabney filed numerous complaints against the Forest Service. After three years, the agency fired Dabney, claiming she lied on her application for a background check.
It's a claim she denies. "You just don't last that long after you lie on your background for three years," she noted.
Before joining the Forest Service, Dabney was convicted of misdemeanor vandalism and felony welfare fraud. She said she disclosed everything in her application and has documents to back up her claims.
Civil rights advocate Lesa Donnelly said she fought a similar battle with the U.S. Forest Service. "In 1995, I worked for the Forest Service, and I filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 6,000 women and the Forest Service for sexual harassment, hostile work environment," said Donnelly.
Although that case was settled in favor of the women, Donnelly says things haven't changed much. "When I found out about her case, it's probably one of the most egregious cases I've seen in the last 18 years," she continued.
Donnelly said the Forest Service still sweeps harassment claims under the rug. "It's not just the Sequoia National Forest, it's Region Five, which is the entire state. They have more complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, than any other place in the nation," noted Donnelly.
"Somebody has to take accountability. But, finding the person, then they're going to have to admit this has been going on. Nobody wants to do that," said Dabney.
"Nobody deserves to be treated the way they're treating women in the Forest Service," continued Dabney.
The U.S. Forest Service told 17 News it does not comment on matters that are in litigation.