Plaintiff in Saline Township sexual misconduct suit amends complaint

Amelia Flood Aug. 17, 2010, 3:13am


One of a number of women claiming a former Saline Township official groped and sexually harassed them when they came seeking public aid has amended her complaint.

Plaintiff Tara Reding filed her amended complaint Aug. 2. Her case is joined with five others filed by plaintiffs Elizabeth Watkins, Jamie Miener, Melanie Hedlund, Laura Barry and Ailie Ritchie.

The women allege that former Saline Township Supervisor Alvin Steiner groped and touched them inappropriately when they came to Saline Township for utility and other aid.

They claim the township is liable for his conduct as Steiner's employer and that it did nothing to prevent or stop the alleged abuse.

The suits, all filed this year, allege nearly identical claims and seek relief of at least $50,000 per count and punitive damages.

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth, who presides over the cases, entered an order late last month tossing a variety of counts and taking arguments to dismiss others under advisement.

Steiner and the township deny the claims.

Steiner resigned from his post as township supervisor last year.

In Reding's amended complaint, Reding claims that Steiner violated his duty not to commit acts of physical aggression or battery.

She further claims that Steiner acted completely outside the scope of his position and that Steiner's acts against her are part of a pattern of conduct against "approximately a dozen other women on assistance."

The amended complaint contends that Saline Township allowed a hazard – namely Steiner – to exist on its property and that the township allowed Steiner to abuse the plaintiff.

Reding claims the township actively assisted Steiner in his acts and allowed Steiner, as township supervisor, to implement a policy or custom where women seeking public assistance would be forced to submit to being groped or fondled.

The plaintiff claims Saline Township violated Article 1, Section 18 of the Illinois State Constitution – the equal protection clause as well as the state's Civil Rights Act.

Meanwhile, Steiner filed a reply in support of motions to dismiss the suits brought by Barry and Ritchie under the statute of limitations Aug. 3.

Other motions regarding the times of replies and filings also remain pending in the case.

The most recent filing in the case was an Aug. 11 combined motion in opposition to Saline Township's motion to extend the time to file pleadings.

Ruth is set to hear motions in the Saline Township cases Friday at 9 a.m. according to the court schedule.

The plaintiffs are represented by Thomas and Peter Maag.

Saline Township is represented by William Knapp and others.

Steiner is represented by Mark Weinheimer.

The cases are Madison case numbers 10-L-145, 10-L-178, 10-L-219, 10-L309, 10-L-310 and 10-L-555.

The Reding case is case number 10-L-555.

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