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Published: Sunday, 10/23/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

Sexton for Toledo Diocese files suit claiming sexual harassment

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A Perrysburg man has filed suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court claiming a high-ranking official in the Catholic Diocese of Toledo sexually harassed him and struck him on the head several times.

David Czech, diocesan sexton in charge of Catholic cemeteries, filed the complaint against Ronald Henderson, a Catholic deacon who is identified on the diocese's Web site as finance and administration secretariat in charge of finance, development, and cemeteries, among other things.

Mr. Henderson, who was placed on paid administrative leave Friday, is one of six administrators listed in the diocesan organizational chart under Bishop Leonard Blair and the chancellor, the Rev. Monte J. Hoyles.

The suit, which does not name the diocese as a defendant, alleges Mr. Henderson made unwanted sexual advances toward Mr. Czech during after-hours "business meetings" at local restaurants between October, 2007, and January, 2008. The advances allegedly included making sexually suggestive comments and touching Mr. Czech on the leg or near his crotch area.

Mr. Czech said after he reported the incidents to the director of human resources, Mr. Henderson became violent toward him, hitting him on the back of the head with his hand on three occasions in late 2010.

Sally Oberski, the diocese's director of communications, said the diocese investigated Mr. Czech's allegations and was able to substantiate his claims of assault, although Mr. Henderson denied the allegations of sexual harassment. She said unspecified disciplinary action was taken against Mr. Henderson.

"When the Diocese of Toledo was first made aware of Mr. Czech's various allegations, appropriate action was taken in response to those allegations that could be substantiated as the result of an independent investigation," the diocese said in a statement.

"This has not been a closed case with the diocese and any other inappropriate behavior will be addressed."

The suit, which was assigned to Judge Gary Cook, seeks in excess of $25,000 in damages.

Mr. Henderson, who came to Toledo from the Diocese of Phoenix, could not be reached for comment.



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