A priest currently visiting the Jackson diocese has faced past accusations of sexual harassment.
The Rev. Maurice Nutt was in attendance and helped lead Mass Sunday at St. Peter’s Catholic Cathedral in downtown Jackson to open the cause for canonization of Sister Thea Bowman of Canton, the first African-American member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. The Catholic Diocese of Jackson posted photos from the Mass on its Facebook page. Nutt prepared the gifts for consecration alongside Bishop Joseph Kopacz.
Nutt, a Redemptorist priest, is “back and forth” between Jackson and New Orleans while he works as a consultant on the cause for canonization, according to Maureen Smith, spokeswoman for the diocese. Smith said the diocese was aware of the allegations against Nutt.
Nutt has previously denied any wrongdoing. He has not been charged with a crime. He is a priest in “good standing,” Smith said, and “has the full confidence of his religious community.”
In March 2001, a police officer began working as a “neighborhood facilitator” for a community board on which Nutt served in Missouri. Nutt’s parish, St. Alphonsus “Rock” Catholic Church, was within the officer’s assigned area. In a lawsuit filed in 2002, the officer alleged Nutt “made unwelcome sexual advances” on three separate occasions.
In the first instance, according to the lawsuit, the officer stopped by the church to give Nutt a community update. After giving him a tour of the building, Nutt asked the officer if he wanted to watch pornography and masturbate with him to “relieve stress,” according to court documents.
The officer declined, according to the lawsuit.
In November, the suit alleges, Nutt again asked the officer to watch pornographic movies with him, help him ejaculate, kissed the officer on the mouth, grabbed his buttocks and reached for his genitals.
The officer again declined his advances, according to the lawsuit. Nutt later admitted to the kiss, calling it a “peck on the lips” he believed was “mutual,” according to court documents, which also show Nutt admitted to “brushing” the man’s “crotch with the back of my hand because it seemed (he) was stimulated by the hug.”
In December, the suit alleges, Nutt squeezed the officer’s thigh while they were sitting at a table during a meeting.
The claim was dismissed against the officer’s employer, the Area Resources for Community and Human Services, with a Missouri court finding Nutt’s actions “were not so severe or so pervasive as to poison (the officer’s) work environment.”
Around the same time in 2001, two St. Louis police officers alleged Nutt sexually harassed them.
According to a 2003 article from the Associated Press, Nutt was serving on the St. Louis Police Board when he allegedly used his position to be near the officers, repeatedly called and messaged them and made sexual advances.
According to a lawsuit filed by one of the officers, in November 2001, Nutt invited him to his study at St. Alphonsus. Nutt then reportedly closed and locked the door before allegedly saying he liked “manly man” and telling the officer, “Come here, boy.” Nutt then allegedly tried to kiss the officer.
Later that same month, another officer alleged Nutt approached him, gave him a hug and said, “You’re close to me; I’m going to keep you close to me.” The officer then felt Nutt’s cheek swipe his own as though preparing to give him a kiss, the AP reported. That officer sued as well.
Nutt resigned from the board in December 2001, two days after the officers filed their complaints. He denied the claims but took an extended sabbatical. He later left the parish.
The suits were settled in 2003. Details of the suit were confidential.
The Redemptorist Denver Provence issued a statement on Nutt’s behalf Tuesday, saying, in part, “he has never been a risk to children and/or vulnerable adult have been reported against him.
“Those who continue to unethically refer to unsubstantiated allegations in court-sealed documents are violating the wisdom of the court and the privacy rights of everyone involved.”
By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Redemptorist Father Maurice Nutt barely had time to get settled in his new office in the chancery before he was called upon to share his knowledge of Sister Thea Bowman, FSPA. Sister Thea is one of five women being honored by the Connecting the Dots foundation at their annual Women of Courage and Strength banquet on Saturday, March 24. As part of the banquet, each honoree is invited to submit a video to tell their story. A local non-profit called Spark-O-Matic offered to produce the video about Sister Thea.
On Tuesday, March 13, three Spark-O-Matic students took time out of their spring break to interview Father Maurice at Medgar Evers Library in Jackson. The group is made up of local college and high school students who want to learn more about digital literacy. They have a robotics team and have learned about audio and video production, have gotten lessons in photo editing and have already produced a documentary that will be featured at the Crossroads film festival.
The students had never heard of Sister Thea before they started on this project. They watched a video of her addressing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and read stories about her life. Using photos of Sister Thea, quotes from her writings and Father Maurice’s interview, they plan to produce a video to introduce her to the banquet audience and for use on the diocesan website.
One student, Angel Walton said she was inspired when she watched Sister Thea addressing the bishops. Sr. Thea was in the last stages of her cancer and used a wheelchair by that time, but still spoke with energy and challenged the bishops to stand, link arms and sing “We Shall Overcome.”
Father Maurice is investigating Sister Thea’s life in hopes that the diocese can open a cause for her canonization. He lives in New Orleans, but will travel between his home and the chancery as well as the motherhouse for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Wisconsin to complete his research.
Fr. Maurice Nutt has been offered and has accepted the position of Director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana. Maurice has been in frequent contact with the Provincial and his Council about the possibility of this appointment. We congratulate Maurice and assure him of our support as he begins this position on July 1, 2014. Maurice will influence and shape many future leaders of the Catholic Church, especially those who serve in African-American parishes, in his new position. He will be a member of the St. Alphonsus community in New Orleans.
LeGRAND v. AREA RESOURCES FOR COMMUNITY AND HUMAN SERVICES
United States Court of Appeals,Eighth Circuit.
Rodrick LeGRAND, Appellant, v. AREA RESOURCES FOR COMMUNITY AND HUMAN SERVICES, Appellee.
Decided: January 20, 2005
Before RILEY, JOHN R. GIBSON, and GRUENDER, Circuit Judges.Christopher B. Bent, argued, Hazelwood, MO, for appellant. Robert J. Tomaso, argued, St. Louis, MO (Errin R. Braddock, on the brief), for appellee.Rodrick LeGrand (LeGrand) appeals the district court’s 1 grant of summary judgment in favor of Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS) on LeGrand’s sexual harassment claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17, and the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), Mo.Rev.Stat. §§ 213.010-213.137. We affirm.
ARCHS, a non-profit organization, implemented the Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative (Initiative), which sought to revitalize local communities through citizen and neighborhood-driven planning. LeGrand worked for ARCHS as a neighborhood facilitator, and he served the Covenant-Blu, Grand Center, and Vandeventer, Missouri communities. As a neighborhood facilitator, LeGrand worked with residents and community leaders to plan development of the community. LeGrand’s responsibilities included organizing a Neighborhood Leadership Team, which generated ideas to improve the neighborhood and provided direction to LeGrand to facilitate such ideas.
LeGrand’s direct supervisors were Initiative Coordinators Lisa Potts (Potts) and Lucille Walton (Walton). The Initiative’s program included a Personnel Committee, which utilized community members to evaluate ARCHS’s employees’ performance. The Personnel Committee advised Potts and Walton regarding employment matters, but Potts and Walton had the final authority to hire, fire, and discipline ARCHS’s employees.
Father Maurice Nutt’s (Father Nutt) parish was located within the Covenant-Blu, Grand Center, and Vandeventer communities. Father Nutt was an ARCHS board member and a co-chair of the Initiative. As an ARCHS board member, Father Nutt consulted and advised Potts and Walton on neighborhood issues. However, Father Nutt was not a member of the Personnel Committee, and he did not make any decisions or any recommendations regarding employment matters.
LeGrand alleges Father Nutt made unwelcome sexual advances toward him on three separate occasions. The first incident allegedly occurred on March 22, 2001, when LeGrand visited Father Nutt’s church to give Father Nutt a community update. After Father Nutt gave LeGrand a tour of the facilities and introduced LeGrand to some of the church’s staff members, LeGrand claims Father Nutt asked LeGrand to watch pornographic movies with him and “to jerk off with him” to relieve stress. LeGrand responded, “No, I’m not interested. I’m not gay. I’m married. I [don’t] get down like that.” In April, LeGrand reported the incident to Potts and Walton, who told LeGrand to document the incident in writing, which LeGrand did. A few weeks later, Potts and Walton suggested LeGrand seek counseling through ARCHS’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). LeGrand met with an EAP counselor in May 2001.
After the first incident, LeGrand tried to avoid Father Nutt. However, in November, LeGrand encountered Father Nutt at the ARCHS office after Father Nutt had a meeting with Potts and Walton. LeGrand contends Father Nutt (1) mentioned the pornographic movies again; (2) suggested LeGrand would advance in the company, if he watched “these flicks” and “jerk[ed Father Nutt’s] dick off”; (3) “kissed [LeGrand] in the mouth”; (4) grabbed LeGrand’s buttocks; and (5) “reached for [LeGrand’s] genitals.” LeGrand pushed Father Nutt in the chest and said, “You motherfucker.” Father Nutt later admitted hugging and kissing LeGrand, but Father Nutt believed the “peck on the lips” was “mutual.” Father Nutt also admitted to “brush[ing LeGrand’s] crotch with the back of my hand [, ․ b]ecause it seemed that [LeGrand] was stimulated by the hug.” The third incident allegedly occurred in December, when Father Nutt briefly gripped LeGrand’s thigh while each were seated at a table during a meeting at the ARCHS office.
ARCHS maintains a sexual harassment policy, which is contained in its employee handbook. When LeGrand was employed by ARCHS, he received a copy of the employee handbook and was aware of the policy. The handbook’s “No-Harassment Policy” states an employee should complain to his immediate supervisor, and if the employee is not satisfied with the supervisor’s response, the employee should contact the Human Resources Manager. LeGrand did not contact the Human Resources Manager regarding his allegations against Father Nutt.
On December 21, LeGrand filed a sexual harassment charge against ARCHS with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After filing his EEOC charge, LeGrand visited an EAP counselor five times over the following six months. In January 2002, LeGrand took medical leave from ARCHS. While LeGrand was on medical leave, ARCHS eliminated all neighborhood facilitator positions, including LeGrand’s position, due to a lack of funding. In August, ARCHS offered LeGrand the opportunity to interview for the Community Development Coordinator position, which LeGrand declined because he had accepted a position with more pay at another organization.
In February 2002, after the EEOC investigated LeGrand’s harassment charge, ARCHS requested and received Father Nutt’s resignation from its Board of Directors. ARCHS also disciplined both Potts and Walton for not following ARCHS’s “No Harassment Policy.”
LeGrand later sued ARCHS in federal court, claiming Father Nutt’s sexual advances constituted quid pro quo sexual harassment and created a hostile work environment. The district court ruled LeGrand’s quid pro quo sexual harassment claim failed, because LeGrand did not establish he was subjected to tangible employment action resulting from his refusal to submit to Father Nutt’s advances. The district court also rejected LeGrand’s hostile work environment claim, because (1) Father Nutt was not LeGrand’s supervisor; (2) Father Nutt was not LeGrand’s co-worker; and (3) the harassment “was not so severe or pervasive as to alter a term, condition, or privilege of LeGrand’s employment.”
On appeal, LeGrand challenges the district court’s conclusion that (1) Father Nutt was not LeGrand’s supervisor, and (2) Father Nutt’s conduct was not so severe or pervasive as to constitute actionable sexual harassment. LeGrand does not appeal the district court’s grant of summary judgment on his quid pro quo sexual harassment claim.
We review de novo a district court’s grant of summary judgment. Schoolhouse, Inc. v. Anderson, 275 F.3d 726, 728 (8th Cir.2002). When considering a motion for summary judgment, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Id. Summary judgment is proper if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Id.; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). We analyze LeGrand’s hostile work environment claims under both Title VII and the MHRA in the same manner. Weyers v. Lear Operations Corp., 359 F.3d 1049, 1056 n. 6 (8th Cir.2004).
In granting summary judgment to ARCHS, the district court determined Father Nutt was neither LeGrand’s supervisor nor LeGrand’s co-worker. Because we conclude LeGrand failed to establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment sexual harassment, we do not address whether Father Nutt was LeGrand’s supervisor or co-worker.
To establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment sexual harassment, LeGrand must prove (1) he is a member of a protected group, (2) he was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment, (3) the harassment was based on sex, and (4) the harassment affected a term, condition, or privilege of his employment. Tuggle v. Mangan, 348 F.3d 714, 720 (8th Cir.2003) (citing Duncan v. Gen. Motors Corp., 300 F.3d 928, 933 (8th Cir.2002)). Assuming LeGrand established the first three elements, we will focus only on the fourth element. To meet his burden on the fourth element, LeGrand “must demonstrate the unwelcome harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive as to affect a term, condition, or privilege of employment by creating an objectively hostile or abusive environment.” Meriwether v. Caraustar Packaging Co., 326 F.3d 990, 993 (8th Cir.2003).
“Sexual harassment ‘standards are demanding-to be actionable, conduct must be extreme and not merely rude or unpleasant.’ ” Tuggle, 348 F.3d at 720 (quoting Alagna v. Smithville R-II Sch. Dist., 324 F.3d 975, 980 (8th Cir.2003)). “ ‘More than a few isolated incidents are required,’ and the alleged harassment must be ‘so intimidating, offensive, or hostile that it poisoned the work environment.’ ” Id. (quoting Scusa v. Nestle U.S.A. Co., 181 F.3d 958, 967 (8th Cir.1999)). LeGrand must prove his workplace was “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult.” Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21, 114 S.Ct. 367, 126 L.Ed.2d 295 (1993). We consider the “totality of the circumstances” to determine whether a work environment is hostile or abusive. Baker v. John Morrell & Co., 382 F.3d 816, 828 (8th Cir.2004). We look to a number of factors, including “the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; its severity; whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.” Harris, 510 U.S. at 23, 114 S.Ct. 367.
Compared to other cases in which the Supreme Court and our circuit have found the harassing conduct did not constitute sexual harassment, we believe the harassment alleged in this case did not create an actionable hostile work environment. In Duncan, we determined the plaintiff failed to show the harassing conduct was “sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to alter the conditions of her employment, a failure that dooms [her] hostile work environment claim.” Duncan, 300 F.3d at 935. In Duncan, we considered five harassing incidents: a proposition for a relationship; improper touching of the plaintiff’s hand on multiple occasions; a request the plaintiff sketch a sexually objectionable planter; the posting of a “Man Hater’s Club” poster; and a request the plaintiff “type the He-Men Women Haters beliefs.” Id. at 933-34. The alleged harasser also had in his office a child’s pacifier in the shape of a penis and a computer screen saver with a picture of a naked woman. Id. at 931. While the harassment made the plaintiff uncomfortable and was “boorish, chauvinistic, and decidedly immature,” we held it did not meet the standard necessary to be actionable. Id. at 935. Thus, in overturning a jury verdict and concluding the district court improperly denied the defendant’s post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law, we held the plaintiff did not show a sufficiently hostile work environment. Id.
Following Duncan, we have found summary judgment proper in several cases, due to the plaintiff’s failure to meet the fourth element of a hostile environment sexual harassment claim. See, e.g., Tuggle, 348 F.3d at 714, 722 (holding while the plaintiff “was clearly subjected to harassing conduct,” it was not “actionable conduct” where a co-worker made a number of comments based on the plaintiff’s sex and posted a photograph showing the plaintiff’s “clothed rear end”); Ottman v. City of Independence, 341 F.3d 751, 760 (8th Cir.2003) (concluding the district court erred in finding a triable issue for the jury where the conduct consisted of belittling and sexist remarks on almost a daily basis); Meriwether, 326 F.3d at 993 (holding sexual harassment claim failed where a co-worker grabbed the plaintiff’s buttock and then confronted her about it the next day); Alagna, 324 F.3d at 977-78, 980 (concluding the co-worker’s conduct was inappropriate, but not sufficiently severe or pervasive where it included calls to the plaintiff’s home, frequent visits to her office, discussions about relationships (not including sexual details) with his wife and other women, touching the plaintiff’s arm, saying he “loved” her and she was “very special,” placing romance novels in her faculty mailbox, and invading her personal space).
Viewing LeGrand’s claim in light of the demanding standard set by the Supreme Court and by Duncan and its progeny, Father Nutt’s behavior did not rise to the level of actionable hostile work environment sexual harassment. None of the incidents was physically violent or overtly threatening. There can be no doubt Father Nutt’s actions, admitted and alleged, ranged from crass to churlish and were manifestly inappropriate; however, the three isolated incidents, which occurred over a nine-month period, were not so severe or pervasive as to poison LeGrand’s work environment. Therefore, we hold LeGrand failed to establish the existence of a trial-worthy question of fact on his hostile work environment claim.
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of ARCHS.
1. The Honorable Stephen N. Limbaugh, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Missouri.
RILEY, Circuit Judge.
St. Louis officers settle claims of harassment by priest
Sunday, December 28, 2003
ST. LOUIS — Two St. Louis police officers have settled lawsuits claiming they were sexually harassed by a Catholic priest who was serving on the Police Board, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Details of the settlements were confidential, the newspaper reported Saturday.
Officers Samuel Irons and William Clinton filed suit in May in U.S. District Court against the Rev. Maurice Nutt, claiming he used his position on the board to be near them. Irons said Nutt tried to hug and kiss him, and both officers complained of repeated phone calls and messages.
Nutt resigned from the board in December 2001, two days after the officers filed complaints that led to an internal investigation. He later left his position at St. Alphonsus “Rock” Catholic Church in St. Louis and moved to the Chicago area. Nutt has denied any wrongdoing.
The lawsuits sought monetary damages from the Police Board and Archbishop Justin Rigali, who at the time was head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He has since become a cardinal in Philadelphia.
The officers said that Rigali provided negligent supervision of Nutt. The archdiocese office was closed Friday night and no one was available for comment.
The settlement was reached after mediation efforts this month, the Post-Dispatch reported. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel issued an order giving the parties 30 days to file papers formally resolving the case.
Frank Kaveney, Nutt’s attorney, wouldn’t say if any money was paid.
Irons said in his lawsuit that in response to a message left for him by Nutt in November 2001, he went to the St. Alphonsus rectory, where Nutt led him to his study and locked the door. Nutt allegedly said he liked “manly men,” and moments later said, “Come here, boy,” then tried to kiss the officer.
Irons said in the lawsuit that he evaded the kiss.
Clinton alleged in his lawsuit that later that month, Nutt approached him as he got into his patrol car, hugged the officer and said, “You’re close to me; I’m going to keep you close to me.”
Clinton felt “Nutt’s cheek swipe his own as though preparing to give plaintiff a kiss,” the lawsuit said. The officer said he pulled away from Nutt, got into the patrol car and left.
2 Police Officers Settle Suit In Sexual Harassment Case
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
December 27, 2003
Two police officers have reached a confidential settlement in their suits claiming that the Rev. Maurice Nutt sexually harassed them while he was serving on the St. Louis Police Board.
The officers, Samuel Irons and William Clinton, said in their suits in U.S. District Court that Nutt used the authority of his position on the Police Board to be near them. Irons said Nutt tried to hug and kiss him, and both officers complained of repeated phone calls and messages from him.
After the allegations surfaced, Nutt resigned from the Police Board in December 2001. He later left his position at St. Alphonsus “Rock” Catholic Church in St. Louis, and moved to the Chicago area. Nutt publicly denied any wrongdoing in relation to Clinton and Irons.
The suits, filed in May, sought monetary damages from the Police Board and Archbishop Justin Rigali, who at the time was head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The suits said that Rigali provided negligent supervision of Nutt. A spokesman for the archdiocese could not be reached for comment. Attorneys for the Police Board also were not available.
The settlement was reached after mediation efforts this month. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel issued an order giving the parties 30 days to file papers formally resolving the case.
Frank Kaveney, Nutt’s attorney, said he could not provide details of the settlement.
“The parties have agreed that the response will be that the cases involving Irons and Clinton were settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties concerned, and that’s the only response we’ll give,” he said.
“We can’t comment on whether any money was paid or what amounts,” he said.
The officers and their attorney, Richard Swatek, could not be reached for comment.
In his suit, Irons said that in response to a message left for him by Nutt in November 2001, he went to the St. Alphonsus rectory, where Nutt led him to his study and locked the door. Nutt then said he liked “manly men,” and moments later said, “Come here, boy,” and then tried to kiss him.
Irons says in the suit he evaded the kiss.
Clinton says that later that month, Nutt approached him as he got into his patrol car.
Nutt then told him to get out of the car, and Clinton reluctantly accepted a hug from Nutt, but then Nutt said, “You’re close to me; I’m going to keep you close to me,” Clinton says.
At that point, Clinton felt “Nutt’s cheek swipe his own as though preparing to give plaintiff a kiss,” the suit says. But Clinton “pulled away,” got back in his patrol car and left, it says.
On Dec. 17, 2001, the officers filed formal complaints. Nutt resigned from the Police Board two days later and took a leave from his church a month after that.