Fifth woman sues Saline Township, former supervisor

Amelia Flood Mar. 19, 2010, 5:25am

Another woman claims that former Saline Township Supervisor Alvin Steiner touched her inappropriately when she came seeking public aid in August 2008.

Plaintiff Ailie Ritchie is the fifth woman to sue Steiner and Saline Township for allegedly grabbing and attempting other sexual conduct when he was asked for utility and other aid.

Meanwhile, Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth denied Steiner's move to gain police records of plaintiffs' attorneys Peter and Thomas Maag from the Highland Police Department.

Ruth entered an order of protection blocking Steiner from getting the pair's police records March 11.

Steiner claimed the records are available under the Freedom of Information Act and that they could show the Maags and their clients have a conspiracy against him.

The latest of the five suits was filed Thursday.

The first was filed by plaintiff Elizabeth Watkins in January. Plaintiffs Jamie Miener, Melanie Hedlund and Laura Barry followed suit.

The allegations in all five complaints are nearly identical. All five plaintiffs claim that they sought assistance from the township to help pay for utility and other bills. They claim that Steiner groped them, tried to kiss them, and otherwise behaved in offensive ways.

Watkins' complaint alleges that Steiner masturbated in front of her. The complaint also alleges that Steiner threatened her to scare her from reporting him.

The suits seek damages in excess of $50,000 and attorney's fees.

Watkins moved for a protective order after a March 10 request for her and the other plaintiffs' police records was made by Steiner to the Highland police. The request also asked for Thomas and Peter Maag's police records, according to her March 11 motion for a protective order.

Thomas Maag was arrested in 2008 for soliciting a prostitute. He pled guilty to a lesser charge, was fined and placed on court supervision.

In the motion, Watkins contends that the request for the records is malicious and made to harass the plaintiffs. The motion calls it a "gross fishing expedition made by a desperate defendant."

In Steiner's March 11 response, the defendant argues that records for the Maags and their clients are available under the state's Sunshine laws. He also argues that the records could be used to impeach the plaintiffs in their respective lawsuits.

"Based on the high degree of similarity between the plaintiffs' allegations in the four lawsuits involving Defendant Steiner and Defendant Saline Township, and the fact that they were all filed within weeks of each other, Defendant Steiner has reason to believe that the plaintiffs and their lawyers conspired against him," Steiner's motion reads.

"The police records of these individuals may lead to the discovery that these individuals have had previous illicit relationships."

In a two page order also dated March 11, Ruth entered the protective order as to the Maags' records. The order does not state that it includes the plantiffs' records.

The defendants are ordered to also inform the Maags if the Highland Police Department does produce the records.

Ruth is set to hear all pending motions in the case April 15 at 10 a.m.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Maags.

Steiner is represented by Mark Weinheimer.

William Knapp, Jeff O'Kelley, Christopher Swenson and Lori Vanderlaan represent Saline Township in the various suits.

The Ritchie case is currently assigned to Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder.

The Watkins case is Madison case number 10-L-031.

The Miener case is Madison case number 10-L-145.

The Hedlund case is Madison case number 10-L-178.

The Barry case is Madison case number 10-L-219.

The Ritchie case is Madison case number 10-L-309.

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