Third suit filed against Saline Township and supervisor

Kelly Holleran Feb. 24, 2010, 1:46am

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

Melanie Hedlund filed a lawsuit Feb. 17 in Madison County Circuit Court against Saline Township and its supervisor Alvin P. Steiner.

Hedlund is the third woman to accuse Steiner of such behavior. In a January lawsuit, Elizabeth Watkins says she experienced the same advances when she asked for rental assistance and Jamie Meiner accused him of similar actions in a Feb. 9 lawsuit.

Like the prior two complaints, Hedlund describes herself as "needy" and says she visited Saline Township for help to pay her utility bills.

"That Steiner, after determining that Plaintiff was desperate and in a weak position, when she was applying for, and/or receiving benefits, would grab her breasts and generally touch Plaintiff in an unwarranted and offensive behavior," the suit states. "That Steiner would undress and expose various parts of his body, including his private areas, despite Plaintiff pleading that Steiner not do so in her presence."

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

"In fact, Steiner told Plaintiff 'go ahead and report me, you'll be the one that goes down,'" the suit states.

Until 2009, Hedlund continued to require utility assistance and remained forced to deal with Steiner to obtain her money, the complaint says. All the while, Steiner allegedly continued to grab Hedlund's breasts and to generally touch her in an offensive manner, she claims.

"On more than one occasion, while the foregoing was occurring, Steiner removed his pants and manually manipulated his genitals while touching Plaintiff," the suit states. "That on numerous occasions through and including 2009, when Plaintiff would appear to receive her utility assistance from Saline Township, Steiner would request sexual contact with Plaintiff."

In addition, Steiner would occasionally arrive at Hedlund's apartment unannounced, the complaint says.

"That Defendant Steiner was warned on one or more occasions prior to entering her apartment without permission, that she did not want him to go to her apartment unit any longer and that Plaintiff would instead deal with Defendant Steiner in his office," the suit states. "That Defendant Steiner intended to and did in fact physically invade Plaitntiff's use and enjoyment of her apartment."

Not only did Steiner harass Hedlund, he also made similar advances to at least four other women, according to the complaint.

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 $200,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems appropriate.

Peter J. Maag of Maag Law Firm in Breese will be representing her.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-178.

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