Jurors side with diocese in pregnant Missouri teacher's suit

2 months 2 weeks 2 days ago Thursday, September 19 2019 Sep 19, 2019 Thursday, September 19, 2019 10:15:51 AM CDT September 19, 2019 in News
By: The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Jurors ruled against a teacher who alleged that she was fired from a Catholic school in Kansas City, Missouri, because she was pregnant, unmarried and refused to have an abortion.

After eight hours of deliberation, the jurors sided Wednesday with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, which said St. Therese School teacher Michelle Bolen was let go in 2015 because of poor performance, The Kansas City Star reports .

Her attorney, E. E. Keenan, argued that the diocese violated a state law that protects women from being fired for refusing to have an abortion. He said it would have been easier to argue pregnancy discrimination, but state law exempts churches.

"This verdict is not an endorsement of what the diocese did and not a criticism of Michelle, just that there is a huge gap in Missouri law as it pertains to workers in religious-based schools in Missouri," he said.

During the trial, Bolen testified that the Rev. Joseph Cisetti told her that had she terminated her pregnancy, the school would not have to deal with the "scandal" of a pregnant, unmarried teacher. The suit says he also told Bolen she could not "return to sender," but if she had, "they would not have been there that day having the discussion about her pregnancy and its repercussions."

Joseph Hatley, the attorney representing the diocese, argued that Bolen never had to refuse to have an abortion because she was never asked to terminate her pregnancy.

Cisetti testified that he "praised" Bolen's decision not to have an abortion but told her she violated her contract. Cisetti said "sexual relations must take place exclusively in marriage." Cisetti says he favored offering Bolen a contract, while the school's then-principal didn't. He says he was concerned about dismissing her because it might create an environment that would be conducive to abortion.

Bolen says administrators concocted non-pregnancy-related reasons to justify not renewing her contract. Before disclosing her pregnancy, Bolen had received positive performance reviews. Witnesses testified that Bolen had been tardy to class several times and had left her students alone for a couple of minutes after asking another teacher a few doors down to keep watch. She was let go just days after reporting that her older, school-age child and a classmate felt uncomfortable when a teacher massaged their shoulders.

Keenan, her attorney, declined Wednesday to say whether she intended to appeal, saying that they are "evaluating our next step."

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY - School policies that have sparked heated opposition among Columbia parents of students with disabilities could be... More >>
2 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 11:05:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri football is in need of a new head coach after MU Athletic Director Jim Sterk fired Barry... More >>
2 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 9:54:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in Sports
AUDRAIN COUNTY - The Moreland family is celebrating after their device known as The Frog won an award in Paris... More >>
2 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 9:38:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol dealt with nine fatalities and three drownings over the Thanksgiving holiday. The... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 6:58:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
OSAGE BEACH - The Missouri Department of Transportation said one lane of Eastbound State Highway 54 and Eastbound ramp to... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 6:11:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - International Giving Tuesday is taking over mid-Missouri for the eighth year in a row. Giving Tuesday ,... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 5:11:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A Boone County prosecutor filed charges against Sutu Forté Monday afternoon. Forté has been charged with one... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 4:23:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A new partnership between Columbia Public Schools and Moberly Area Community College could ease the financial burden that... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 4:09:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - Police arrested three individuals Sunday morning after two search warrants resulted in a large amount of illegal... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 4:01:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA- Former Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel reacted to news that his successor Barry Odom has been fired from the... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 1:03:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
OSAGE BEACH - One lane of Highway 54 reopened Monday morning after a man was injured when a "large rock"... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 12:43:00 PM CST December 02, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Local organizations are partnering to raise awareness about AIDs. Ragtag Cinema, Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human... More >>
3 days ago Monday, December 02 2019 Dec 2, 2019 Monday, December 02, 2019 7:08:00 AM CST December 02, 2019 in News
COOPER COUNTY — The Cooper County Sheriff's Office asked residents in the area of Highway 87, Cave Creek Road and... More >>
3 days ago Sunday, December 01 2019 Dec 1, 2019 Sunday, December 01, 2019 9:52:00 PM CST December 01, 2019 in Top Stories
COLUMBIA — What's in a church? For Little Bonne Femme Baptist, almost 200 years of history. The church, first... More >>
4 days ago Sunday, December 01 2019 Dec 1, 2019 Sunday, December 01, 2019 4:54:00 PM CST December 01, 2019 in News
BOLLINGER COUNTY (AP) — Three people died in southeast Missouri when their vehicles were swept off flooded roads in... More >>
4 days ago Sunday, December 01 2019 Dec 1, 2019 Sunday, December 01, 2019 10:58:00 AM CST December 01, 2019 in News
BOONVILLE - Black Friday marked the official start to the Christmas shopping season. While many people begin to put up... More >>
4 days ago Saturday, November 30 2019 Nov 30, 2019 Saturday, November 30, 2019 9:12:00 PM CST November 30, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - After a 6-6 season, the University of Missouri announced the firing of head football coach Barry Odom. ... More >>
5 days ago Saturday, November 30 2019 Nov 30, 2019 Saturday, November 30, 2019 10:18:00 AM CST November 30, 2019 in Top Stories
FULTON - One person was shot dead after entering a residence in Fulton Saturday morning. Fulton Police Department say... More >>
5 days ago Saturday, November 30 2019 Nov 30, 2019 Saturday, November 30, 2019 9:54:00 AM CST November 30, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 53°
8pm 50°
9pm 49°
10pm 48°
11pm 48°