KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) – An archivist claims the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph fired him for objecting to pervasive homosexual sexual harassment from priests who “fawned” over a male co-worker.
Larry Probst sued the Diocese for sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation, in Federal Court. The diocese is the only defendant in the case.
Probst worked as an assistant to the diocese’s archivist. He claims his bosses, the Rev. Charles Michael Coleman and Fr. Robert Cameron, “fawned” over his co-worker Michael St. George, and that the three sexually harassed him. Cameron even said St. George “could ‘cum in my hand,” the complaint states.
“Both Fathers Cameron and Coleman fawned over plaintiff’s co-worker, St. George, in the presence of plaintiff,” Probst stays
“Plaintiff was subjected to a sexually hostile work environment when St. George made sexual advances toward him.
“Fr. Robert Cameron and others would talk to Fr. Coleman about St. George in sexually suggestive ways, in the presence of plaintiff.”
Probst then lists incidents of “unwanted and unwelcome sexual harassment,” including:
“a. Sexually offensive comments from St. George such as ‘I don’t date someone with a hatchet wound,’ referring to a girlfriend of a co-worker.
“b. Sexually offensive comments from St, George about removing pornography from his computer desktop before he could allow a Parish Soft technician access to his computer.
“c. Sexually offensive advances and gestures from St. George such as arching up and grabbing his crotch while riding in a vehicle with plaintiff at the request of Father Coleman.
“d. Sexually offensive comments from Father Coleman, such as about games men play where the loser has to ‘service’ the other men under the table.
“e. Sexually offensive comments from Father Cameron such as that St. George could ‘cum in my hand.'”
Probst also claims he was exposed to sexually explicit emails on St. George’s computer.
The complaint states: “In approximately the summer/fall of 2010, plaintiff reported the repeated and pervasive, sexually offensive email by St. George to Fr. Coleman. “Coleman seemed only to be concerned that the email be deleted so that St. George would not be fired.
“In January or February 2011, plaintiff complained to the Diocesan communications director, Rebecca Summers, about the sexually offensive advances, comments and materials.
“In February 2011, plaintiff complained Monsignor Blacet, a Diocesan official, about Fr. Coleman, that Fr. Coleman had hired a worker who was acting inappropriately with diocesan resources, about the sexually explicit emails, and that Coleman was facilitating the co-worker’s sexually offensive conduct toward plaintiff.
“In March 2011, plaintiff complained to Phil Luebbert, a Diocesan priest, about his co-worker and the sexually offensive comments and materials.
“In March 2011, the Diocese’s Chief Financial Officer, Dave Malanowski, told plaintiff, when plaintiff was commenting about St. George’s role with respect to the move of the Chancery offices, that he did ‘not want to get into relational issues’ between Coleman and St. George.
“On March 18, 2011, plaintiff met with the Chancellor of the Diocese, Bradley Offutt, and he reported being consistently and repeatedly subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by St. George, that St. George made sexual advances toward him, that he was using the computer in the archives to receive personal and sexually offensive emails.”
Probst said Offutt discouraged him from pressing his complaint and told Probst that he could lose his job because of it.
But Probst says he did not drop his complaint and provided proof of St. George’s inappropriate computer use with a “screen capture” from St. George’s computer. Probst says the diocese responded by creating “a new log-in exclusively for St. George on the computer that allowed St. George protected access to the computer.”
On June 30, Probst says, the diocese fired him, citing “lack of funding.”
Probst claims he was fired as retaliation for his complaints.
He seeks back pay, front pay in lieu of reinstatement, and compensatory and punitive damages.
He is represented by Sarah Brown with Randles, Mata & Brown.