The alleged victims of harassment from former St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney did not pursue criminal charges against their boss. Instead, the foremost concern of the five women was the removal of Delaney as their employer, according to the county's top prosecutor.
Bob Delaney, 55, resigned his post in June 2013 following accusations from female employees alleging years of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and other misconduct. Delaney, of Collinsville, could not be reached Wednesday for comment. He has previously denied the allegations.
The allegations resulted in a $665,000 settlement unevenly split among five of his former employees -- Laura Romero, Tina Baum, Joan Acker, Margaret Eros and Christine Newman. The individual settlements ranged between $90,000 and $200,000, and were paid through the county's self-insurance program.
The criminal justice process is a separate and independent process with a different standard of proof from the employee protections provided by civil law, according to St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.
"The employees involved in these civil settlements did not have any contact with law enforcement as the specific allegations occurred and they have not at any stage sought criminal charges against Mr. Delaney," Kelly said. "This office does not confirm or deny any past or ongoing criminal investigation or comment on any special prosecution of any other person as a matter of course."
The employees' complaints were handled quickly with regard for the victims' preferred outcome, Kelly said, foremost of which was the removal of Delaney as their employer.
"Litigation would have likely resulted in greater costs than a settlement, so claims were addressed fairly and swiftly by the County Board to limit the impact on public funds as much as was possible," Kelly said.
Delaney began receiving a $92,706 annual pension from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund on June 1. Employers, such as St. Clair County for Delaney, and employees pay into the plan, which is paid for primarily through investments and does not include money from the state.
Public officials convicted of official misconduct or certain other felonies may not receive pension benefits through the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund or state-funded pensions.
State law prohibits judgments garnishing pensions, and Delaney, along with his wife Janet, filed for bankruptcy May 15 in federal court. However, Kelly said the county will always consider pursuing any opportunity to recoup money for the public should a legal means to do so present itself.
Delaney's retirement fund is valued at more than $2.3 million, according to court documents. His home and retirement fund are the only major assets listed in the bankruptcy petition. Delaney owes creditors $417,485 and intends to surrender his foreclosed-upon home at 48 Woodford Way in Collinsville to JP Morgan Chase Bank as part of the bankruptcy. Delaney owes the bank more than $244,000 related to the home's mortgage.
Meantime, county officials have confirmed the names of the women who complained about Delaney and will not be appealing a ruling from the Illinois Attorney General's Office ordering their identities be made public. The Illinois Department of Human Rights, which received charges against Delaney from the women, previously revealed their identities -- but the county chose not to release their identities to the media.
"After consulting with the women involved, an appeal of the Public Access Counselor's opinion will not be pursued primarily since most of them do not wish to be the subject of any further public discussion," Kelly said. "However, they are hopeful the legislature will provide greater privacy protection for individuals who complain about discrimination, so others are not discouraged from acting in the future. They remain deeply concerned about other women who could be faced with a similarly difficult situation."
The settlements became public in May after the Illinois Attorney General's Office ruled the county should release the documents to the News-Democrat. The News-Democrat requested the intervention of the Attorney General's Office when county officials previously refused to release the agreements.
When the settlements were released to the News-Democrat, the names of those receiving the payments had been redacted on the agreements. To keep the identities secret, county officials would have needed to successfully appeal the ruling in Circuit Court.
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.