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Missouri Baptist Sex-Discrimination Lawsuit Settled; Other Legal Woes Continue

The former comptroller of the Missouri Baptist Convention has settled her federal lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination.

In a separate development, a critic of a proposed purchase of the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Missouri Baptist Building for construction of a new jail filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office after a county clerk told him two requests for public records under the state’s Sunshine Law would cost $188,000 and $275,000 respectively.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Clyde Angle, a Jefferson City attorney who alleges that Cole County commissioners knowingly violated Missouri’s Sunshine Law by voting in secret on a $2.75 million contract for purchase of the convention’s property, accused County Clerk Marvin Register of also violating the law by charging “egregious and absurd” fees to provide copies of correspondence related to the sale.
 
Angle said the fee estimates would have a chilling effect on the public’s desire to access public records.   
 
Register defended the amounts, saying some of the e-mails are located on tapes from on an old server that would have to be restored at a cost of thousands of dollars apiece, according to a report in the Jefferson City News-Tribune.
 
Angle said he believed the fees estimate would set a record for access to government records in Missouri.
 
The recently settled sexual discrimination complaint by former comptroller Carol Kaylor alleged libel, slander, gender discrimination and retaliation against the Missouri Baptist Convention and its executive director, David Clippard.
 
Clippard fired Kaylor for misconduct after she tried to retrieve an e-mail mistakenly sent to Clippard’s office computer in February 2003. After filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, she sued early in 2004.
 
Kaylor’s attorney, Michael Berry, released a statement Thursday saying that with Kaylor’s consent, a judge ruled in favor of the convention, finding no legal claim for sexual harassment.
 
The convention’s insurance company agreed to “resolve the remaining claims” and pay Kaylor’s attorney fees, the statement said. Both parties agreed that a contribution will be made to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions.
 
Both Kaylor and the MBC “are pleased this matter is resolved and behind them, according to the statement.
 
In a third legal battle involving the MBC, lawyers for the convention filed an appeal Dec. 6 in an ongoing effort to regain control of five convention agencies which changed their charters to move to self-perpetuating trustee boards.
 
In March a circuit judge threw out the lawsuit against the entities, saying the executive board and six churches filing the lawsuit lacked legal standing to sue.
 
The convention tried to amend the lawsuit to substitute the names of individual messengers for the six churches, but that motion was denied. The MBC filed a new lawsuit Oct. 25 but argued in its appeal that the convention should not have to assume the costs and risk of a new action, according to a report in the Missouri Baptist newspaper Word & Way.
 
MissouriBaptists.org, a Web site monitoring the lawsuit’s progress, estimated costs of the case so far in excess of $1.4 milllion.
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.