COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. -- The Mississippi Dunes golf course is for sale, months after a judge ruled in favor of former employees who complained of sexual harassment.
The 18-hole, 72-par public course in Cottage Grove closed recently after 22 years in operation. Edina Realty has listed the 185-acre parcel along the Mississippi River for $10 million, and is marketing it as a prime location for residential development.
Twin Cities radiologist William Doebler, known as "Doc" to regulars, built the course and has maintained a steady presence there. In recent years, according to court documents, he drew complaints from several female employees, who said they've been verbally harassed with sexual taunts and touched inappropriately.
In August Washington County Judge Mary Hannon awarded a total of $130,000 to four employees who alleged they had been harassed and suffered retaliation -- being removed from the work schedule -- for complaining about it.
She found that former employees Michelle Johnson and Charlotte Johnson had in fact endured harassment and battery on the job at the Dunes, and were entitled to damages for mental anguish and suffering.
Judge Hannon also ruled former employees Traci Johnson and Wade Strom had lost their jobs at the Dunes in retaliation for raising the issue with managers.
Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said that male employees who witness harassment against female colleagues, and want to speak on their behalf, do have protection against retaliation under Minnesota law.
In her ruling, Hannon wrote the following:
"This atmosphere, in which the business owner's actions go unchecked despite (and likely because of) his position of power over the employees at the Dunes likely contributed to a hostile work environment by creating a culture where sexual harassment is tolerated by management and employees believe there is no recourse available to them."
The attorney for the plaintiffs in the case said his clients wouldn't comment to the media, due to a confidentiality agreement linked to a legal settlement.
Doebler, who was in Naples, Florida on Thursday didn't respond to an email message from KARE. A family friend reached out to Doebler's wife, Barbara DuFrane, on behalf of KARE. She said the couple didn't wish to comment at this time.
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