SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 26, 2014

Jury finds against Sheriff's Department

Ignored inmate's complaints about sexual harassment in work program

SALEM — A Salem Superior Court jury has found that the co-owner of a Salisbury Honey Dew Donuts franchise sexually harassed at least one woman sent to work there while serving time in a pre-release center run by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

On Friday, the jury awarded Melissa Noyes of Amesbury a total of $35,000 in damages, after finding that she was subjected to sexual harassment by Sameer Hussin, the co-owner of the donut franchise shop, and that the Sheriff’s Department “aided and abetted” the harassment by ignoring her complaints.

The jury found that the Sheriff’s Department must pay half of a $10,000 damages award; Hussin, who is a partner in Sam and Al Inc., must pay the other half, plus $25,000 in punitive damages, according to the judgment.

Noyes’ attorney, Kenneth Homsey of Methuen, called the jury’s verdict “vindication” for his client and others who reported being harassed, some of whom testified during last week’s trial.

And while the amount of the jury’s award is significantly less than the $250,000 sought in the case, Homsey said his client is satisfied.

“From the beginning, my client, Ms. Noyes, and myself thought the important thing is that what was going on there had to see the light of day,” Homsey said. “I think the jury did a good job discovering the truth and applying the law.”

Noyes began serving a six-month jail term on a burglary charge in September 2011, according to court records. She was admitted to the Women in Transition program, a minimum security, pre-release facility in Salisbury, to serve her term, rather than MCI Framingham.

Inmates in the program are allowed to work during the day. Noyes was one of the 40 or so women who had been hired over the years by Hussin, who ran the Honey Dew shop on Bridge Road, according to her lawyer.

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