A 2014 federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment by former Illinois Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Dan Rutherford was dismissed Wednesday.
Attorneys for Rutherford and Edmund Michalowski, a former staffer, agreed to the “dismissal without prejudice” – which allows Michalowski to re-file his claim, according to a federal court filing.
The case will remain under the jurisdiction of the U.S. District Court until it is dismissed with prejudice, which would mean the case is closed for good and Rutherford cannot be retried.
Messages left with attorneys for Rutherford and Michalowski were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.
Michalowski filed an initial lawsuit in February 2014, outlining his allegations two weeks after Rutherford publicly said that a former employee had demanded $300,000 to stymie legal action for his alleged “misconduct.”
After the judge dismissed some of Michalowski’s claims, including the allegation of coercion to do political work on the state time clock, Michalowski filed a fresh complaint in April 2016 alleging sexual harassment against Rutherford and four others.
Michalowski cited six instances in which he alleges Rutherford made unwanted sexual advances or comments from 2011 to 2013, including an overnight stay at the treasurer’s Chenoa home in which Michalowski claims his host entered his bedroom and touched him sexually. When he complained to his superiors, Michalowski claims he was labeled a troublemaker and passed over for promotions and salary raises.
Rutherford ordered the review to clear his name, but the lawsuit dashed his hopes of winning the Republican nomination for governor that March.
Compiled by Ron Braver & Associates, the report concluded that “Michalowski was not retaliated against for not acquiescing to alleged sexual or political pressures.” It also said that based on the evidence reviewed, “rumors that Mr. Michalowski may be let go from the treasurer’s office after the primary elections play a role in coming forward with these serious allegations and the allegations appear to be released to influence his current election.”
Michalowski’s attorney, Dana Kurtz, condemned the review, saying it “leaves out substantial information.” She said her client sued because he and other young men were being harassed by Rutherford, and he wanted it to stop.
Three other former Rutherford employees sued him in 2015 in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging they were fired because they backed up Michalowski’s story. That suit was dismissed in Rutherford’s favor last August.
The Chicago Sun-Times previously reported that the two lawsuits against Rutherford had cost Illinois taxpayers more than $500,000.
Contributing: Associated Press