Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, August 19, 2019

Prenzler will not release Poshard reports due to attorney objections

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Nov 20, 2017

Madison County Chairman Kurt Prenzler last week said he would not yet release the two outside investigation reports involving sexual harassment claims after attorneys involved objected to the documents’ release.

Prenzler did not specify which attorneys objected. 

In a Nov. 8 press release, Prenzler stated that he advocated the release of the reports due to the “public’s right to know.”

However, he provided the parties’ attorneys the opportunity to assert any objections first, and some opposed the release, he said. 

The reports involve sexual harassment allegations by Kristen Poshard, former administrator of community development. 

However, investigations concluded that her claims were unfounded. County Board members terminated her employment following a unanimous 26-0 bi-partisan vote on Oct. 18. 

On June 7, Poshard met with Prenzler, County Administrator Doug Hulme and Compliance Manager John Thompson, alleging she was being harassed by County Board Member Phil Chapman. 

Prenzler, Hulme and Thompson met with Chapman that afternoon and discussed the allegations. Chapman agreed to avoid Poshard while an investigation was underway. 

Working with Assistant State’s Attorneys, the administration retained former Circuit Judge James Hackett to complete the formal investigation. 

Hackett submitted his report on June 25. He concluded, “There is insufficient evidence to conclude that Sexual Harassment, as outlined in county policies, has occurred.”

Poshard then provided a written grievance against Hulme on July 10. In general, her complaints involved his management style and practice. There were no allegations of sexual harassment. 

The administration, again working with Assistant State’s Attorneys, retained attorney Kevin Babb to investigate this complaint. 

Babb submitted a report on Sept. 18. He concluded, “Given the facts that I have gleaned during my investigation, I find no factual basis to support the allegations made in the grievance.”

County Board members reviewed the Hackett report, the Babb report, emails between Poshard and Hulme and notes taken by Prenzler and Thompson following the meeting when the allegation was made. 

After a thorough review of the reports, consultation with Assistant State’s Attorneys and consideration of the issues, Poshard’s employment was terminated. 

Poshard had been appointed administrator of community development in March with an annual salary of $92,000. 

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