The former executive director of the Harvey Park District, fired last year over alleged financial irregularities, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was sexually harassed by a district commissioner.
Dionne Cooper filed the suit against the Park District and Anthony McCaskill on May 19 in U.S. District Court.
Cooper alleges in the suit that the harassment started in June 2013 after McCaskill was elected to the district’s Board of Commissioners.
When both Cooper and McCaskill attended a convention in Houston in October 2013, she claims he told her to “make sure that her and his hotel rooms were not far apart,” according to the suit.
In February 2014, McCaskill ordered Cooper to fire the district’s Superintendent of Recreation, according to the suit.
He told her, “It’s going to be you or her. I promise you you’ll be sorry. You ditched me in Texas. You dissed me in Chicago. Now, I’m giving you an order and you’re disobeying me. You will be punished,” according to the suit.
McCaskill also posted on Facebook that Cooper used the district’s debit card for $40,000 in purchases and that she had forged a commissioner’s signature to district checks totaling $97,000, which Cooper claims in the suit is not true.
The board fired Cooper by unanimous vote in October 2014, according to various media reports. Cooper claims McCaskill engineered her termination.
The five-count suit alleges supervisory sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of contract and defamation, and seeks at least $300,000 in damages.
McCaskill, reached by phone Thursday afternoon, disputed the suit’s sexual harassment allegations, and said the board of commissioners began investigating the district’s finances in early September, before they were made aware of the sexual harassment claims.
He said the investigation into financial allegations is ongoing.