A trial in an unlawful retaliation suit filed by the former prosecutor in Lee’s Summit against the city is scheduled to begin Feb. 19, but may be postponed after a request was filed to transfer judges.
Daniel Boatwright, an attorney representing the city as it defends itself against Rachel Townsend Brown’s accusations that she was unlawfully retaliated against and fired after levying a sexual harassment charge against City Attorney Teresa Williams, said the change in judges may or may not delay the start of the trial.
Charles McKenzie was scheduled to oversee the case in Division 16 of the Jackson County Circuit Court, but now the case will go before Robert Schieber.
“Judge McKenzie recused himself,” Boatwright said via telephone Feb. 14. “There was an order of recusal out and I think that’s the only public statement on it. It’s not clear whether it’s going to continue to go with the change in judge, but there has been a change in judge, so it’s a chance it won’t go.”
Brown’s attorney, Kirk Holman, didn’t return phone calls from the Journal seeking comment.
Townsend Brown, a former city prosecutor, filed suit in November of 2011 against the city of Lee’s Summit, Williams – her supervisor – and City Manager Stephen Arbo after Townsend Brown complained about a sexually-charged birthday card that was passed around the office. The complaint, she contends, led to her losing a job she had held since 1999..According to court documents, on Dec. 15, 2010, Townsend sent a memo to Arbo complaining about a sexually-charged birthday card Williams had circulated around the office in early December of that year. Townsend Brown accused Williams of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment in the complaint.
Townsend Brown was later suspended without pay as the city looked into her claims and eventually was escorted from the building by Human Resources Manager Barbara Moberg.