Ex-police board leader sued for assault

Sunday, May 5, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- A man has sued the St. Louis and Denver archdioceses over sexual advances he says he endured from this city's police board president who resigned after two male police officers similarly accused him.

Rodrick LeGrand's U.S. District Court lawsuit, filed here Friday, accuses the Rev. Maurice Nutt of assaulting him by touching and trying to kiss him while both were with Area Resources for Community and Human Services. Nutt was a board member for that community group.

Nutt, according to the lawsuit also naming ARCHS as a defendant, threatened to have LeGrand fired if he reported the sexual harassment, which allegedly occurred at Nutt's St. Alphonsus "Rock" Catholic Church, a parish in the St. Louis archdiocese.

Nutt resigned from the city's police board in December, shortly after the two officers filed complaints with the department. Those men alleged that Nutt, 39, had made unsolicited intimate overtures to both, including trying to kiss one of them. One officer accused Nutt of boasting that his power on the police force could positively influence the officer's career.

Nutt, who has denied those claims, resigned from the police board to take on additional duties with the Denver Province of the Redemptorists, a Catholic order that preaches to the poor. The lawsuit does not explain why the Denver archdiocese was named as a defendant.

The St. Louis archdiocese was faxed a copy of LeGrand's lawsuit Friday but deferred comment until it had more time to review it, spokesman Jim Orso said. Nutt has been unreachable since taking an extended sabbatical from St. Louis and his parish after the officers' allegations were made public in January.

Calls to LeGrand's home went unanswered Friday. ARCHS and the Denver archdiocese did not immediately return telephone messages.

Hired in 1999

According to Friday's lawsuit, LeGrand, 32, was hired in 1999 by ARCHS to serve a neighborhood territory that included Nutt's St. Alphonsus church.

According to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, Nutt told LeGrand in March 2001 to begin meeting regularly with him at the church for priestly counseling sessions. After the first meeting, the lawsuit claims, Nutt took LeGrand from the church's meeting room to Nutt's home, where LeGrand was invited to watch pornographic movies showing sex acts involving men and boys.

After LeGrand "refused Father Nutt's overt sexual advance," the lawsuit alleges, Nutt "became increasingly aggressive" in later meetings, inappropriately touching and trying to kiss LeGrand.

"All of these advances were unsolicited and unwelcome," the lawsuit said.

LeGrand reported Nutt's conduct to "supervisors" four times but got no relief, the lawsuit alleges without specifying LeGrand ever complained to the St. Louis archdiocese.

Nutt, who was the first priest on the police board, has served more than eight years as pastor at St. Alphonsus.

An investigation into the police officers' allegations against Nutt has been completed, though the police board has refused to disclose the findings.

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