Township supervisor attempted to elicit sexual favors for rent assistance, suit claims

Kelly Holleran Jan. 22, 2010, 3:54am

A Madison County woman claims a Saline Township supervisor attempted to elicit sexual favors from her in return for rent assistance.

Elizabeth J. Watkins filed a lawsuit Jan. 14 in Madison County Circuit Court against Saline Township and its supervisor Alvin P. Steiner.

In her complaint, Watkins describes herself as "needy" and says she visited Saline Township for help to pay her rent.

"That in October or November of 2006, Steiner, after determining that Plaintiff was desperate and in a weak position, when she was applying for benefits, placed his arms around Plaintiff, and grabbed her rear and breasts, and attempted to kiss her," the suit states. "That Plaintiff attempted to rebuff Steiner's conduct, and did not consent in any way."

Steiner allegedly threatened to revoke Watkins' rental assistance if she told anyone about his conduct, the complaint states.

Until November, Watkins continued to require rental assistance and remained forced to deal with Steiner to obtain her money, the complaint says. All the while, Steiner allegedly continued to place his arms around Watkins, to feel her rear and breasts and to attempt to kiss her, she claims.

"On at least one occasion Steiner removed his pants and attempted to show certain parts of his body normally covered by pants to Plaintiff, who turned and refused to watch," the suit states. "That on numerous occasions after October 2006 and through and including November, 2009, when Plaintiff would appear to receive her rent assistance from Saline Township, Steiner would request sexual contact with Plaintiff, and would state to Plaintiff words intended by Plaintiff to imply that if she resisted his unwelcome advances or reported the conduct to others, that Steiner would cause Plaintiff's rent assistance to be terminated."

Eventually, on Nov. 15, Steiner resigned from his post as township supervisor, and now Watkins seeks compensatory damages of more than $100,000 and punitive damages of more than $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems appropriate.

Thomas G. Maag of Wendler Law in Edwardsville will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-31.

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