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Chicago cop who accused ex-Supt. Eddie Johnson of sexual harassment seeking on-duty disability checks, citing PTSD

Cynthia Donald also is suing Johnson in federal court, saying he made her have unwanted sex with him for three years in his headquarters office and on out-of-town work trips.

Former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Getty Images

The Chicago police officer who accused former Supt. Eddie Johnson of forcing her to have sex in his office and on out-of-town trips is now seeking an on-duty disability benefit, saying the “unwanted” three years of sexual abuse caused her to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cynthia Donald, 46, is asking the Policeman’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago to approve an on-duty disability benefit that would pay her 75% of her salary, according to an application she has filed.

The police pension fund hasn’t ruled on her request, records show.

She has been getting an “ordinary disability” benefit, which pays less — 50% of her salary rather than the 75% a duty disability finding would give her.

She’ll keep getting her current disability pay until a full evidentiary hearing is held, with medical testimony, to determine whether she should get the larger benefit, which recognizes a job-related disability — or, potentially, nothing at all.

In Chicago, police officers can get one year of ordinary disability for every four years of service — up to a maximum of five years.

“It’s been a customary practice for decades that the board grants an ordinary disability until the officer has a full evidentiary hearing and they can bring their doctors and attorneys and present their case,” said Michael Lappe, a trustee and vice president of the police pension board.

Chicago police Officer Cynthia Donald, who filed a lawsuit for workplace sexual assault and harassment against former Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Chicago police Officer Cynthia Donald, who filed a lawsuit for workplace sexual assault and harassment against former Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Pat Nabong / Sun-Times

In a lawsuit she filed last year against Johnson, Donald said that he noticed her in 2015 while she was working in the First District on the South Side and that he then had her assigned to his security detail.

Six months later, he arranged for her to be his driver, according to her lawsuit.

She said she engaged in unwanted sex with Johnson at his office at Chicago Police Department headquarters and on out-of-town work trips, and he told her she could be promoted to sergeant if she “stayed on his good side,” also texting her nude photos of himself.

After they were drinking at a downtown bar in October 2019, Johnson dropped her off at police headquarters. He later was found asleep at the wheel of his car in Bridgeport near his home.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Donald to be moved from Johnson’s security detail and sent back to the First District, according to the lawsuit, which says Johnson instead assigned her to the records division at police headquarters, “where he could continue to sexually harass her.”

In late November 2019, Lightfoot demoted Johnson, saying he’d lied to her about the October incident. He retired a few days later.

Donald’s lawsuit, filed in November 2020, remains pending in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo has dismissed some of the counts against the city because of legal technicalities, but the city and Johnson remain defendants.

Donald has said Johnson destroyed the memory card in his cellphone to cover up damaging text messages he sent her.

In January, Johnson’s lawyers filed a response to the lawsuit, saying he and Johnson had a “wholly consensual and mutually sustained” relationship and that it wasn’t abuse.

Johnson’s court filing said what it described as their affair ended in late December and that they remained friends even months after Johnson left the police department. Her accusations that he sexually harassed her are “patently false,” the former superintendent’s lawyers said in the court filing.

Shortly after they filed those papers, Johnson broke a long silence, telling Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell: “If I could change some things, I would, but I can’t.”

He said he is only human and makes mistakes and that he had apologized to his wife and family.

But Johnson also said in the interview, “I have never forced anyone to do anything that they didn’t want to do.”