Lawsuit claiming harassment filed against KC diocese

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A former employee of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was sexually harassed at work and then fired after making reports to superiors.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in U.S. District Court by Larry Probst, alleges that Probst was subjected “to a sexually hostile work environment” because of unwanted sexual advances from another lay employee, “inappropriate and offensive” language in the office in which he worked, and inappropriate messages on diocesan computers. It seeks unspecified back pay and damages.

The diocesan spokesperson confirmed in an email that Probst had worked for the diocese “on an intermittent” basis from June 2005 until June 2011.

“Along with four other positions, Probst’s temporary position was eliminated at the end of the diocesan fiscal year, on June 30, 2011, solely for budgetary reasons,” said the statement. “At the same time, an existing full-time employee with six years of service to the diocese was assigned to offer support to four departments, including the Diocesan Archives.”

According to the lawsuit, Probst was an employee in the diocesan archives office when he became the subject of unwanted sexual advances from a male coworker in the office.

We refreshed our website! Drop us a line at to tell us what you think. We value your feedback.

The coworker, named in the lawsuit as Michael St. George, would use his diocesan computer in ways that were “inappropriate and offensive” to Probst, including leaving “sexually explicitly web email messages” open on the screen.

According to yesterday’s suit, Probst first reported his concerns about the coworker to the head of the archives office, diocesan priest Fr. Charles Michael Coleman in “approximately the summer/fall of 2010.” Coleman, the suit alleges, “seemed only to be concerned that the email be deleted so that St. George would not be fired.”

Following that report, the suit alleges Probst then reported his concerns through the spring of 2011 to five other diocesan officials and priests.

The suit alleges a meeting between Probst and the diocesan chancellor occurred in March of last year. It also alleges that Probst provided the chancellor with a “screen capture” image of an inappropriate email that Probst’s co-worker had left open on his diocesan computer’s screen.

Following an official report on his concerns, the suit alleges Probst was notified in May, 2011, that his position was to be eliminated “due to lack of funding,” and his employment was officially terminated June 30.

It also alleges that Probst was then immediately replaced by another part-time employee, a female, who started work July 1.

Last November, Probst spoke about his allegations against the diocese during a brief press conference outside the Kansas City chancery building.

Without giving any details of what he would later allege, Probst said then that he was “unwillingly subjected to a sexually hostile work environment by some co-workers and priests.”

Probst’s lawsuit, which was brought by the Randles, Mata, and Brown law firm, alleges sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation and seeks relief under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR staff writer. His email address is]

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.