Woman Sues Abbey for Sexual Harassment

Woman Sues Abbey for Sexual Harassment

A woman has filed a lawsuit against the abbey at which she worked alleging sexual harassment, and also claiming that she was fired after filing complaints.

Kathryn Preston worked at the Ave Maria Grotto gift shop in Cullman Alabama around 1994 and later transferred to the gardens. She said that in her last two years working there, Brother Francis Dachs, a Benedictine monk who works and lives at the monastery sexually harassed her making lewd sexual comments and touching her.

The Lawsuit

“Brother Francis assaulted and battered the plaintiff by subjecting her to numerous unwanted touchings,” said the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court on December 20.

The monk supervisor at the abbey, Abbot Cletus Meagher said that neither he nor anyone else at the abbey would comment on the lawsuit details, and added “It would be inappropriate to say anything.”

The Equal Opportunity Commission found that Preston was subjected to retaliation and sexual harassment, claimed the lawsuit.

Preston claims in her lawsuit that she was the head of the gardens but was denied a promotion in May 2005. The abbey hired Pete Rice as a new executive director. Rice fired Preston in July claiming that she was “not a team player,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also mentions a memo written by Meagher in May discussing a meeting in which he scolded Dachs for ignoring the abbot’s order to stop approaching Preston, and also saying that the abbot had told him, “It has also come to my attention that you have said things that I would consider inappropriate to other female employees of St. Bernard Abbey.”

Dach continued to initiate contact with Preston and make inappropriate sexual comments despite the meeting and the abbey’s orders, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit seeks damages for reinstatement of lost pay, unspecified damages, and an injunction against the defendant to keep him from practicing unfair employment practices in the future.

Victim of sexual harassment? Please contact us today for a free consultation with a caring and experienced personal injury attorney who can answer your questions, examine your case thoroughly, and help you plan the best course of action. You may be eligible for compensation for your lost wages, pain, suffering, and more.

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