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Friday, April 12, 2024 | Back issues
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Catholic School Settles Coach’s Harassment Suit

DALLAS (CN) - A Catholic school has settled claims of sexual harassment and defamation brought by its former varsity cheerleading coach and history teacher.

Kristin Brown sued Irving-based The Highlands School in Dallas County Court earlier this year, alleging violations of the Texas Labor Code.

She claimed she was fired in retaliation for reporting a sexually hostile work environment and disparate treatment.

"Steve Virgadamo, plaintiff's supervisor, made numerous inappropriate sexual comments and requests for dinner dates, inviting her to sit on her lap, and implying a married coach should get her drunk and have sex with her at a school function, to name a few," the seven-page complaint stated. "In order to prevent future sexual harassment by Steve Virgadamo, Kristin Brown and John Trevino, the athletic director, filed complaints with defendant THS board of directors regarding Mr. Virgadamo's unlawful conduct."

Virgadamo was counseled for his conduct and sent her a letter of apology, but later retaliated against her, Brown said.

"The retaliation resulted in the reduction of her income, loss of her job, and complete humiliation as a result of defamatory statements made by defendant THS to the entire THS community," the complaint stated. "On May 23, 2011, THS terminated plaintiff's employment for alleged inappropriate conduct, namely consuming alcohol at a private, non-school sponsored, graduation party."

Brown said male employees who engaged in similar alleged conduct at the party were not fired, and that male employees who drank alcohol at earlier school-sponsored parties were not even disciplined, let alone fired.

Judge Lorraine Raggio signed an agreed order of dismissal on Feb. 21.

"Plaintiff and defendant, through their counsel of record, announce to the court that all matters in controversy between them have been fully and finally settled," a joint motion to dismiss stated. "Plaintiff no longer desires to prosecute this suit against the defendant."

Founded in 1986, The Highlands School teaches under the direction of the Legionaries of Christ, an international congregation of priests, according to its Website.

In 2012, the school was named as one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the country by The Cardinal Newman Society.

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