St. Louis County settles Wildhaber case for $10.25 million

Then Sgt. Wildhaber with St. Louis County Police who was told to "tone down his gayness," was initially awarded $20 million by a jury last year.

Alex Degman
February 10, 2020 - 7:58 pm

CLAYTON (KMOX) -- St. Louis County has reached a settlement with Police Lt. Keith Wildhaber, who was passed over for promotions and told to "tone down his gayness."
County Executive Sam Page says attorneys knew they'd likely lose on appeal.

"We settled this lawsuit with the understanding that the county recognizes and acknowledges what Lt. Wildhaber survived in the police department," Page told KMOX following a Monday evening news conference. "This sends a clear message that discrimination will not be tolerated in county government."

The $10.25 million dollar settlement with  Wildhaber is far less than the $20 million the jury initially awarded. That won't come from Proposition P funds, but the county will have to issue bonds -- essentially borrowing -- to pay for it. Page expects that request to come before the County Council as early as next week.

The timing of the settlement announcement came the same day that County Police Chief Jon Belmar announced his retirement -- there was initial speculation that was due in part to the Wildhaber case even before the settlement was announced.

Page says the two aren't related -- and had nothing but good things to say about Belmar.

"It wasn't a condition of the settlement, it wasn't discussed during mediation," Page says. "Chief Belmar has served as a police officer for 34 years, he's been our police chief for six years, and there's been a great deal of accomplishments under his tenure -- including the charge to pass Proposition P, the sales tax that allowed us to give raises to our police officers."

Lt. Wildhaber still works for the police department -- he became a Lieutenant, promoted from Sergeant, shortly after the initial jury verdict. He was also named commander of the newly formed Diversity and Inclusion unit.

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