ST CHARLES, Mo. — Vulgar text messages.
Sexually explicit images.
These are among the allegations outlined in separate lawsuits filed this year by two female lawyers for St. Charles County against former Police Chief David Todd and the county.
The suits also allege other county leaders were aware of the harassment but did nothing to stop it. One of the women alleges she was retaliated against after notifying County Executive Steve Ehlmann of her concerns.
“Sexual harassment and mistreatment of women was the norm for Todd while he was employed by St. Charles, who engaged in a pattern and practice of subjecting female employees to sexual harassment and/or a gender hostile work environment with impunity,” according to one of the lawsuits.
Most of the allegations are too graphic to publish, but some of them include:
- Introducing one of the attorneys to the SWAT team when she was eight months pregnant by saying “Boys, this is Holly. Get a good look at her and make sure it’s not yours.”
- Text messages to one of the women that read the department is “lucky to have such a smart lawyer, but smoking hot doesn’t hurt either”
- Telling one of the women to sleep with a rich man so she could get breast implants and texting her ‘I see breasts in your future’
A spokeswoman for St. Charles County said officials could not comment on pending litigation, but added: "We are confident the evidence will give an entirely different representation of the plaintiffs’ employment with St. Charles County Government."
The county's full statement is as follows:
"It is the obligation of St. Charles County Government to ensure that our employees feel safe, valued and protected. We work to maintain a safe environment by providing mandatory harassment training for all County employees.
"We acknowledge that the County has been named in two lawsuits regarding sexual harassment, however, per our policy, we do not discuss matters involving potential or pending litigation. We can say, however, that in this matter, we are confident the evidence will give an entirely different representation of the plaintiffs’ employment with St. Charles County Government."
In a response to one of the lawsuits, county attorneys denied all of the allegations.
Both cases began when the women filed separate complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Associate County Counselor Megan Murray filed hers in July 2019.
Associate County Counselor Holly Magdziarz filed in November 2019.
Both women got what’s known as “right to sue” letters from the commission not long after Todd retired in February after a nearly 42-year career with the department — five of which were as its chief.
Magdziarz filed suit in July — it's her lawsuit that county attorneys responded to earlier this month by denying all of her allegations.
Murray filed her suit Friday.
J.C. Pleban is representing Murray.
“We have the text messages,” he said. “What are they going to say?”
In addition to Todd and the county, Director of Administration Joann Leykam is named as a defendant in Murray’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges Leykam knew about the harassment and did nothing about it.
Magdziarz’s lawsuit claims Leykam is personal friends with Todd, having once worked as the associate county counselor assigned to the police department when Todd was a captain, and that the two have vacationed with their families together and socialized outside of work together.
In its response to Magdziarz’s lawsuit, county attorneys say they “lack sufficient information or knowledge” to admit or deny that a personal relationship exists between Todd and Leykam.
But, according to Murray's lawsuit: “Leykam warned female employees that the police department was male dominated and they would be subjected to crass statements before sending them to work with the department, showing she had actual knowledge of conduct of the type alleged herein."
“It's not an easy thing, I don’t think, to take on people in such powerful positions,” Pleban said. “It's especially difficult when you have the director seeing this behavior and not correcting it.”
Magdziarz alleges she faced retaliation after she filed her EEOC complaint.
Her attorney declined to comment.
But her lawsuit alleges Leykam excluded her from a training opportunity, stripped her of her duties with the police department and, after she complained in writing to County Executive Steve Ehlmann and former County Counselor John Watson, her case files were removed from her computer and she was blocked from looking at others.
In their response to her lawsuit, county attorneys admit Magdziarz’s “access to certain files has been restricted,” but denied her other allegations of retaliation.
Both women still work in the county counselor’s office. The county has hired the Jackson Lewis law firm to handle their cases.
Leykam is still the county’s director of administration.
Ehlmann is the county executive.
Todd retired in February.
As part of the press release announcing Todd's replacement, Ehlmann wrote:
“I want to thank Chief Todd for his years of service, and wish him a happy, well-deserved retirement. Throughout his career, Chief Todd has been dedicated to law enforcement, public safety and the safety of his brother officers both in his department and throughout the region. He ensured St. Charles County law enforcement was well-trained and that Emergency Management capabilities were greatly expanded to meet the needs of our growing community. We owe him a great deal of gratitude for a job well done.”
The lawsuits are the second and third time Todd’s name has come up among allegations of discrimination that have resulted in an EEOC complaint by a female employee.
In February 2019, the county paid former County Police Officer Stephanie Fisk $500,000 to settle her complaint before it resulted in a lawsuit.
The contents of the complaint are not public.
Pleban represented Fisk, too.
But Fisk — and the county — agreed to a confidentiality clause.
So, the only thing Pleban or anyone involved in that settlement can say is:
“That matter was resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”
The lawsuits can be read in their entirety below.
Warning: The lawsuits contain contains sexually explicit language.