County secretary claims she was subjected to debasing pornography

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 24, 2008, 12:13pm

A county board secretary for Madison County filed a motion in federal court asking the county to admit that she reported seeing former county administrator James K. Monday watching pornography during business hours on a computer belonging to the county.

Robin Beem filed the motion Jan. 15, in connection with a sexual harassment and discrimination complaint she filed against the county alleging she was exposed to a hostile work environment.

Represented by Lee Barron of Alton, Beem also wants the county to admit that Monday was watching pornography on a Madison County computer and that no effort was made to examine the computer used by Monday prior to March 27, 2006, the day Monday abruptly resigned following a 20-year career.

Her suit was filed Sept. 26, 2007.

Beem alleges that she was subjected to an unwelcome sexually harassing environment and was required to work in an environment that was objectively and subjectively hostile to her because she was a woman.

She alleges that on more than one occasion she reported "pervasive, ongoing and continuous sexual harassment and frequent exposure to extreme, graphic and debasing pornography" to high ranking county officials who had the authority to resolve her complaint but they failed to take any effective remedial measures.

Beem wants the county to admit that if Monday's computer had been searched in 2005 or during the first two months of 2006, pornography would have been found on that computer. She alleges the pornography included explicit photographic images of fully naked men and women engaging in sexual intercourse and included explicit photographic and video images of fully nude men and/or women engaging in homosexual activity.

Beem further wants the county to admit that Monday's computer had contained video and/or images of teenagers, or individuals represented to be teenagers, and sadistic photographic and video images of women. She claims that more than five hours of pornographic video was found and more than two thousand pornographic images were found.

At the time of Monday's departure Madison County Sheriff Robert Hertz confirmed that a computer was taken from the administration building, but declined to say if it belonged to Monday.

Hertz said he would not comment on an internal matter because sometimes internal matters can turn into criminal matters.

Monday began his career with Madison County in 1976. The late Nellie Hagnauer, longtime county board chairman, named Monday director of administration in 1985.

Joseph D. Parente was appointed by Dunstan to replace Monday.

Beem also wants the county to admit that after she reported seeing pornography on Monday's computer, that no investigation was conducted.

She wants the county to admit that another secretary also reported seeing pornography on Monday's computer.

Beem further wants the county to admit that other county employees were aware of the pornography on Monday's computer because she often needed to sit in their offices to avoid seeing the pornography on Monday's computer.

According to Beem, while Monday's office door was opened, he had his computer screen positioned so that Beem could see it from her desk while she was seated.

Beem claims she experienced embarrassment, humiliation and severe emotional distress as a result of the sexual harassment and pervasive hostile work environment she was required to work in.

She is seeking a judgment for compensatory and punitive damages.

The county denies any wrongdoing and claims Beem may have failed to exhaust her administrative remedies with regard to some or all of the claims and that her claims may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

The county also claims Beem may have failed to mitigate her alleged damages, may have failed to take reasonable action to avoid damages, and may not be entitled to some or all of the relief that she demands because she may have exacerbated her damages by her conduct.

The county claims that it exercised reasonable care to prevent a hostile working environment and that Beem failed to act with like reasonable care to take advantage of safeguards to prevent harm that could have been avoided.

The county is seeking a judgment in its favor and wants an award of attorneys' fees and costs of the suit.

Madison County is represented by Larry Bauer and John Phillips of St. Louis.

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