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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • County clerk candidate had settled in discrimination lawsuit

  • One of the candidates who has filed for the office of Phelps County clerk was involved in a sexual assault and racial discrimination lawsuit in 2011.
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  • One of the candidates who has filed for the office of Phelps County clerk was involved in a sexual assault and racial discrimination lawsuit in 2011.
    Roger A. Harris, a Republican candidate for the elected position, confirmed with the Rolla Daily News last month that he is the former manager of Forum Manor Apartments who was involved in the lawsuit.
    When Harris was contacted last month, he agreed to talk about the issue, but since then, he has not returned phone calls.
    Harris filed for the county clerk office on March 13, 2013.
    According to a Nov. 21, 2011, news release from the Office of Public Affairs with the U.S. Department of Justice, Harris, along with Hediger Enterprises Inc., Carroll Management Group, Forum Manor Associates L.P. and Forum Manor LLC, which owned and managed the property, “agreed to pay $295,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination, retaliation and intimidation at Forum Manor Apartments, a federally-subsidized apartment complex in Rolla.”
    The lawsuit alleges that Harris “engaged in a pattern or practice of sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination, and retaliation, intimidation or coercion against current and prospective tenants.”
    According to the Justice Department, the lawsuit further alleges that the companies that owned and managed the property “are liable for Mr. Harris’ actions.”
    A consent decree required Harris and the companies to pay $260,000 to 13 victims and $35,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. It also prevented Harris from managing federally-subsidized properties in the future and limited his ability to manage other types of rental properties, according to the Justice Department.
    This lawsuit arose out of complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by several former tenants and applicants of Forum Manor.
    After investigating the complaints, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and referred the case to the Department of Justice after one of the complainants elected to have the case heard in federal court.
    Harris is one of three GOP candidates running for county clerk in the Aug. 5 primary. The other two are Pamela K. Grow and Rosalind Ann Breske.
    Paul I. Long was the only Democrat to file for county clerk.
    Current Phelps County Clerk Carol Bennett is not seeking another term. Bennett plans to retire at the end of this year.

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