Former St. Clair County clerk accused of sexual harassment begins collecting $93,000 pension

News-DemocratJune 7, 2014 

St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney in a BND file photo taken the day he announced his resignation.

TIM VIZER — tvizer@bnd.com

Former St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney, whose alleged sexual harassment of female employees resulted in the county paying a $665,000 settlement, has begun collecting his nearly $93,000 public pension.

The allegations stem from five women who claim Delaney constantly harassed female employees since taking office in 1999, according to new details released in state documents.

Delaney, 55, resigned his elected position as county clerk in June 2013, after accusations from employees of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and other misconduct. He was not charged criminally.

Delaney, of Collinsville, could not be reached for comment. He previously has denied the allegations.

On June 1, Delaney began receiving the $92,706 annual pension he earned from the state, according to officials with the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

The alleged misconduct resulted in a settlement with five of Delaney's former employees, all women, ranging from $90,000 to $200,000 each to drop legal action against the county and Delaney.

The settlements are paid through the county's self-insurance program.

The employees -- Laura Romero, Tina Baum, Joan Acker, Margaret Eros and Christine Newman -- filed charges of discrimination with the Illinois Department of Human Rights in August and September of 2013, months after Delaney resigned. They could not be reached for comment.

The charges allege years of constant humiliation endured by the women. The employees allege Delaney kissed them, touched them inappropriately, used obscene language derogatory toward women, withheld raises based on an employee's race, and harassed an employee with a hearing impairment.

"Bob Delaney said to me, 'You know what, we should have sex.' I told him to get away from me. He then said, 'I am serious, we should (expletive).' I told him he was sick," an employee states in a complaint filed with the Department of Human Rights and made public.

Another employee stated: "Once a few years ago he called me into his office and said, 'Close the door.' Then he put his arms around me and kissed me, and then told me I could leave. ... Another time a few years ago I was leaning against a counter talking to other people in the office and he came up behind me and smacked my behind. He smacked me hard enough that he moved me. I tried to ignore him and he said, 'Didn't you feel that?'"

A third employee alleged that in addition to sexual harassment, Delaney "made the comment after the most recent election that before the next election he was going to 'clean house' and that the first to go were going to be the 'Mexicans.'"

Delaney never faced criminal charges for the alleged misconduct and therefore his pension was not jeopardized. Public officials convicted of criminal charges such as official misconduct and other felonies may no longer receive state pension benefits.

For example, Fred Bathon, the former Madison County treasurer, lost his $90,000 annual state-funded pension after he was convicted of rigging property tax lien auctions. He is currently serving a prison sentence.

The Delaney-related settlements came to light in May when officials with the Illinois Attorney General's Office ordered county officials to release the documents to the News-Democrat. The News-Democrat requested the intervention of the Attorney General's Office when county officials refused to release the agreements, which were finalized in December.

County officials have refused to release the names of the employees involved in the settlements, although state officials with the Illinois Department of Human Rights confirmed their identities. The county still must release the names or appeal the attorney general's ruling ordering the release of the identities.

The St. Clair County Board recently approved amending its personnel code to include an anti-bullying policy along with a domestic and sexual violence policy. The policies restrict bullying, threats and physical assault by employees or contractors with St. Clair County. Employees who violate the policy face disciplinary action and contractors may have their contracts canceled.

The board approved the new policies during its most recent meeting May 27. During a committee meeting prior to the full board meeting, County Administrator Dan Maher told board members the policies were federal mandates.

"Both of them have to do with the personnel code and both have to do with the county being able to apply for and accept federal funding," Maher said.

Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at dkelley@bnd.com or 618-239-2501.

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