Lt. Keith Wildhaber of the St. Louis County Police Department, who was awarded a $20 million judgment in a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit last October, has agreed to a $10.25 million settlement.
It’s believed the county planned on appealing the ruling, and so Wildhaber came to this agreement to avoid a protracted appeals process.
You may recall Wildhaber, who is openly gay, sued St. Louis County after being passed over for promotion 23 times. Wildhaber said he was being discriminated against due to his sexual orientation.
In the lawsuit, Wildhaber alleged a member of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners told him that if he wanted to get promoted, “you should tone down your gayness.”
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According to the settlement papers filed Tuesday morning in a St. Louis County court, Wildhaber is to receive a little more than $6.4 million and his attorneys will get about $3.8 million.
Prior to going to trial last year, Wildhaber and his lawyers offered to settle the case for $850,000 plus an immediate promotion of Wildhaber to lieutenant, according to a timeline of the case released by Page’s office. Steve Stenger, the previous St. Louis County Executive, ignored the offer, according to the timeline.
Stenger was later indicted on federal charges in a pay-for-play scandal. He pleaded guilty in August to charges of bribery, mail fraud and depriving citizens of honest services of a public official and sentenced to 46 months in prison.
Following the October jury verdict in Wildhaber’s case, Belmar promoted Wildhaber from sergeant to lieutenant. Belmar also created the police department’s Diversity and Inclusion Unit and put Wildhaber in charge of it, Page said.
Just hours before the settlement was made public, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar announced he will retire in April. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the retirement had nothing to do with the settlement.