Law Firms

Suit alleges 2 lawyers sexually assaulted paralegal after firm’s annual holiday party

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A former paralegal at St. Louis law firm Brown & Crouppen claims in a lawsuit that she was apparently drugged at the firm’s annual holiday party and sexually assaulted by two firm attorneys at an Illinois strip club later that night.

The former paralegal, identified as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit, alleges that the assault happened on the night of the firm’s mandatory annual holiday party in December 2017 at the St. Louis Four Seasons Hotel. Her lawsuit was filed Dec. 5, 2019.

KSDK has coverage.

Brown & Crouppen denies the allegations and says it thoroughly investigated the employee’s complaint.

Doe says she went to a bar at the Four Seasons after the party ended at about 4 p.m. A female co-worker tried to get Doe to go home, but she was combative by that time and refused to go. Instead, she left the bar and traveled with the two lawyers and others from the law firm to a strip club in Sauget, Illinois, the lawsuit says.

Brown & Crouppen, a personal injury firm, paid for the Uber ride to the strip club and for transportation back to St. Louis, where Doe ended up at the home of one of the lawyers, according to the suit.

At the club, Doe recalls being in a white and gold room where she was subjected to multiple acts of oral sex, the suit says. The suit identified two of the alleged perpetrators as Brown & Crouppen lawyers. When Doe woke up in the home of one of the lawyers the next morning, he was groping her, the suit alleges.

Doe says the lawyer confirmed the sex acts when they talked at the office that Monday.

Doe says painful memories of the incident were triggered in September 2018 when she picked up a paper clip off the open hand of the lawyer. She complained about the alleged assault to human resources, sought counseling, and filed criminal complaints in St. Louis and Sauget. The law firm placed Doe on paid administrative leave in October 2018.

The human resources department at Brown & Crouppen told Doe that the lawyers had denied the allegations, and it had concluded that nothing happened to Doe, the suit says. Doe alleges that her witnesses were not contacted.

A little more than a month after Doe was placed on paid leave, the law firm informed her that she had to return to work or resign, the suit says. If she resigned, she would have to sign “an agreement waiving all claims,” according to the suit.

Instead, Doe went on medical leave for her post-traumatic stress disorder and left the firm in March 2019, when the leave ended.

Doe is suing for alleged sex discrimination and retaliation under Missouri’s human rights law, common law battery and infliction of emotional distress, and violation of the Illinois gender violence law.

St. Louis police told KSDK that they are no longer investigating the case.

Brown & Crouppen managing attorney Andrea McNairy released this statement to KSDK: “As soon as the employee informed us of the allegations, we immediately conducted a thorough internal investigation, provided the employee with several weeks of paid leave to focus on her own well-being, remained in communication with her, and took all appropriate actions to accommodate her and everyone else involved. A police investigation was also conducted at the time, and no criminal actions were found.”

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