Past Rader employee claims bias

03/27/2012 4:51 PM

03/27/2012 4:51 PM

A woman's gender discrimination lawsuit says she felt threatened by her boss — Dennis Rader — months before the world knew him as a serial killer.

According to Mary Capps' lawsuit against Rader and his supervisor, Jack Whitson, the incident happened May 17, 2004.

On that day, about nine months before Rader's arrest as the BTK serial killer, he locked the doors to her Park City compliance office and "began approaching her," the lawsuit says.

She hit her phone intercom and repeatedly yelled for Whitson to help her. By the time Whitson arrived, Rader had returned to his office, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, originally filed Nov 29 in state district court in Sedgwick County, was moved last week to federal court in Wichita.

Susan Selvidge, the Wichita lawyer representing Rader and Whitson, told The Eagle on Wednesday: "This claim has no merit. Capps is just trying to make money from Rader's notoriety."

Capps, who worked for Rader in the Park City ordinance compliance office for more than six years, is seeking more than $75,000 and a trial by jury.

Selvidge said it's possible that Rader was only trying to have a private conversation with Capps by closing a door. Her work area was essentially open to the public, Selvidge said.

Rader seemed to have led a compartmentalized life, in which his work for Park City was a positive side, she said.

Neither Capps nor her lawyer, Tad Wagner of Wichita, could be reached for comment.

She resigned her compliance officer job this past summer, said Whitson, who otherwise declined to comment. At the time Capps left, Whitson had a number of supervisory duties including ordinance compliance. He is now city administrator for Park City.

In her lawsuit, Capps alleges that:

 She told Whitson at least weekly that Rader had used "abusive, intimidating language and physical gestures" toward her because of her sex. The lawsuit said Rader accused her of "being stupid and being on drugs while at work."

When she relayed her concerns about Rader to Whitson, the lawsuit said, Whitson told her "that was just Dennis; someday he will retire."

 As part of Rader's evaluation of her work in 2004, he had her keep daily logs of precisely where she drove on the job, including all streets patrolled and where she made turns and U-turns.

Because of his evaluation of her work, the lawsuit said, she didn't receive an annual pay raise. Rader, on the other hand, didn't have to keep such a log for himself and "received an exceptional review" from Whitson, the lawsuit said.

 After Rader's conviction this past summer for 10 murders from 1974 to 1991, Whitson decided to "stand by" Rader's evaluation of Capps.

Rader, 60, is serving 10 consecutive life sentences at El Dorado Correctional Facility.

During the period Capps worked for Rader — from August 1998 to February 2005 — she filed three formal grievances against him regarding their work relationship, the lawsuit said. Rader apologized over one grievance, it said.

After the alleged encounter in the office between Rader and Capps, he didn't receive any discipline, the lawsuit said.

Capps claimed that each time she raised concerns about Rader, she was told she had to first file her grievance with him.

Rader determined the response to complaints she filed, the lawsuit said, even though the complaints were about him.

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