Iowa settles stalking lawsuit filed by 3 workers
DES MOINES — The Iowa board responsible for approving lawsuit settlements on behalf of the state decided Monday on a $900,000 settlement in a case filed by three men who worked at the Department of Revenue and claimed they were harassed by another male co-worker.
The lawsuit was filed in 2017 by Daniel Wagner, Lloyd Lofton and Joshua Bates. They claim Kenneth Kerr stalked them and invaded their privacy. When they reported it, the lawsuit claimed supervisors failed to immediately act, allowing Kerr’s behavior to continue for years.
The case was initially filed against the state and Department of Revenue supervisors in state court, but the state moved it to federal court in August 2017.
Kerr was investigated in 2015 after Lofton reported that Kerr videotaped him underneath a stall partition while he used the restroom. Kerr was fired that same year. He was charged and pleaded guilty in 2016 to invasion of privacy and sexually motivated stalking.
Investigators found a 250-page journal on his work computer detailing his encounters with the men he followed and photographed, and an Excel spreadsheet rating the genitals of various male employees.
In 2017, Kerr was found with homemade videos of the men he had worked with, violating terms of his probation. He went to jail for 38 days and then was sent to a residential facility.
According to court documents, in April 2018, he was released from probation, continued treatment, maintained a job and paid his financial obligations. Kerr continues to be listed on the state sex offender registry.
On Nov. 6, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Goodgame Ebinger denied several motions by the state to dismiss the lawsuit, allowing it to move forward against the state for negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligent supervision and training.
“IDR supervisors knew Kerr’s conduct intruded into the most private and sensitive areas of human life, which put them on notice that Kerr’s conduct — if permitted to continue — was very likely to cause extreme emotional distress,” Ebinger said.
The State Appeal Board approved Monday afternoon a recommendation by Iowa Solicitor General Jeffrey Thompson to settle the case. Each of the men will get $185,290 and the law firm representing them will be paid about $344,000.
“There were people that had knowledge that could have taken actions to help prevent this,” Thompson said, noting those supervisors no longer work at the agency. “This is a difficult case for everybody.”
The appeal board also approved settlements in several other cases, including $3 million for a woman who suffered brain damage after she was exposed to carbon monoxide while staying in a rented cabin at Black Hawk State Park, and $1.3 million for a man who had surgery at University of Iowa Hospitals and later found his continued health problems were due to a surgical towel and staple that were left in his colon. The state general fund will pay half and the University of Iowa Physicians fund will pay the other half.
A settlement also was approved for $25,000 to Marlon Mormann, a former administrative law judge at Iowa Workforce Development who alleged age discrimination discharge and Iowa Civil Rights Act violations.