Ruth enters scheduling order, allows amended complaints in Saline Township sexual abuse cases

The Madison County judge overseeing a series of sexual battery cases against Saline Township and its former township supervisor has entered a scheduling order setting filing deadlines in all five cases.

The order also allows three of the plaintiffs in the suits to file amended complaints.

The May 4 order comes 10 days before the judge, Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth, is set to hear motions, including a move to consolidate the five cases by defendant Alvin Steiner.

Ruth is set to hear motions in the cases May 14 at 9 a.m.

Steiner, Saline Township's former supervisor, is accused of groping, fondling and sexually harassing five women who came to the township seeking utility and other public assistance.

Saline Township is named in the suits as his employer. The May amended complaints filed by plaintiffs Elizabeth Watkins, Jamie Miener and Melanie Hedlund also contend that the township knew about Steiner's "campaign of offensive and outrageous sexual pursuit," and failed to put safeguards in place to protect the women or otherwise allowed Steiner to "victimize" the plaintiffs.

Steiner and the Township deny the charges.

Steiner resigned as township supervisor last November.

The defendants have motions to dismiss the suits pending.

The suits seek damages in excess of $50,000, punitive damages and costs for multiple counts against both defendants.

Under the May 4 order, the three plaintiffs were granted leave to file the amended complaints.

The defendants have until May 18 to respond.

All five plaintiffs are to file their responses to the pending motions to dismiss by June 1.
Saline Township and Steiner have until June 15 to file their replies supporting the motions to dismiss the suits.

A hearing on all pending motions to dismiss will be held June 30 at 1:30 p.m.

All discovery except as otherwise ordered in the May 4 order is stayed until the June 30 hearing.

The other two plaintiffs with suits pending against Saline Township and Steiner are Laura Barry and Ailie Ritchie.

Watkins was the first to file suit.

Meanwhile, the township's insurance company, The Township Officials of Illinois Risk Management Association (TOIRMA) has filed five declaratory actions in Madison County. It asks that it not be obligated to cover Steiner in the event of judgments against him.

All of the plaintiffs are represented by Thomas or Peter Maag.

The township is represented by Lori Vanderlaan.

Steiner is represented by Chris Swenson.

TOIRMA is represented in the declaratory actions by Terese Drew and Carol Proctor.

The declaratory judgments are Madison case numbers 10-MR-72, 10-MR_73, 10-MR-74, 10-MR-86, and 10-MR-87.

The five suits against Steiner and Saline Township are case numbers 10-L-31, 10-L-45, 10-L-178, 10-L-219, and 10-L-309.

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