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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cleveland VA Hospital Reaches $161,500 Settlement With Former Nurse Who Sued Over Mishandled Sexual Harassment Complaints

Posted By on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 1:14 PM

CITY PLANNING COMMISSION
  • City Planning Commission

Update: The Cleveland Veterans Affairs Hospital has reached a $161,500 settlement with a former nurse who filed a lawsuit alleging that officials, for years, improperly handled her complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment and retaliated against her for bringing them in the first place.

Annette Katz, who now works in Florida, told Cleveland.com, "This is actually the start of my healing. I don't have to remember it anymore." She also told the outlet she wanted her name used to serve as an example for others who've also experienced harassment.

The details of Katz's allegations are horrifying. A nursing assistant, MD Garrett, began verbally harassing Katz while walking her to her car one day. He tried to kiss her and, after being turned away, told her he'd have to go home “and masturbate then to the vision of her.” The verbal harassment, a constant stream of vulgarities, continued. "Just let me run my hard dick on you." "I want to fuck you." "I want to straddle your lap."

Later, the harassment escalated to a physical nature. Katz said Garrett grabbed her body multiple times and attempted to assault her in a bathroom. (There are many, many more details of the abuse in our original story below.)

Katz reported the abuse to supervisors, some of whom she said witnessed Garrett's behavior. She requested a transfer to another VA facility but was denied. She was offered a job on another floor, but suffering from PTSD, she didn't show up and was fired. (A psychiatrist with the VA examined her and said she could return to work at any time.) The VA also closed its investigation of Katz's complaints.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court records indicate MD Garrett was indicted in July 2013 on three counts of sexual imposition, two counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of unlawful restraint – charges Katz's lawyer says are related to Garrett’s assault of her client. Court records show Garrett pleaded guilty to the three sexual imposition charges and the unlawful restraint charge in exchange for two years probation. He’s now a tier one-sex offender.

Judge Dan Polster presided over the case, litigation of which stretched a little more than two years since Katz filed her lawsuit in December 2015.

***

(Original story 12/9/15): According to a lawsuit that recently landed in federal court, staff at the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Hospital at Wade Park were subject to repeated gross overtures and outright sexual assault from a co-worker.

The suit, filed by a woman we'll call "AR" (although she's named in the complaint, Scene doesn't ID the victims of sexual assault), describes a hellish cycle of on-the-clock abuse, harassment and assault — all while administrators allegedly ignored the situation. 

The legal filing IDs AR as a Licensed Practical Nurse who worked at the VA Medical Center in Wade Park. She was with the hospital from November 2011 to November 2014. Trouble began, however, in summer 2012.

According to the complaint, that’s when AR was forced to “endure extreme and outrageous verbal and physical sexual harassment and assault promulgated by co-worker MD Garrett.” It started when Garrett walked AR to her car “under the premise that she would not have to walk alone.” The male employees then tried to kiss his co-worker. AR said no. Garrett responded that he would have to go home “and masturbate then to the vision of her.”

That kind of gives you a sneak-peak at the harassment to come. According to the complaint, Garrett began parking his car next to AR and following her to her car daily. He also began boxing her ears with a whole litany of gutter-ball utterances. Per the complaint:

"I want to Fuck you"
“I want to stick my big dick in your pussy"
"Trust me. I know how to make you smile.''
"I love you and you will say yes one of these days and we will be together so stop fighting it."
"I want to cum all over you."
"Just let me run my hard dick on you."
"You don' t ever need to do anything, just let me cum on you. we can go into the supply closet no one will know."
“Your nipples are so hard they excite me."
"You know we are going to be together."
"I want to straddle your lap."
"I have to go home and masturbate after seeing you."

The harassment ballooned from words to outright sexual assault. Again, according to the complaint, Garrett was responsible for:

Repeatedly grabbing [AR], mauling her, touching her breast, touching her butt,
rubbing his penis on her, and making licking sounds while physically accosting her.

Grabbing [AR] from behind and physically forcing her into a linen closet on a
number of occasions, forcing himself on [AR], and forcing his tongue in her
mouth, while restraining her from getting to the door. [AR] felt so ashamed and
dirty.

MD cornered [AR] in a conference room, licked his fingers, and forced them on
her groin area, and, petrified, she immediately slapped his hand away.

MD pressed up against [AR] telling her he knew she "wanted fucked". [AR]
said " STOP!!~ ', but MD just laughed and said ·•you say no when you really mean
yes''.

Assaulting [AR] in patients' rooms, grabbing her, pushing her, pressing against
her, trying to forcibly kiss her. [AR] would push him to try to get him away and
told him to ' 'STOP!!''. MD would laugh and tell her "yes you do".

MD grabbed [AR]’ s hand while she was charting and put it on his aroused penis and told [AR] "this is what you do to me."

MD regularly "brushed" against [AR], including against her breast, and told her
''your nipples feel good".

MD grabbed [AR]’s butt when she wasn't looking on a regular basis.

MD attempted to straddle [AR] when she was at a computer station.
The abuse continued despite AR’s protests. The abuser allegedly told his victim he had a conceal carry permit and kept his weapon in his car, terrifying AR further. But when AR took reports of her abuse to the VA administration, she was ignored.

“[AR] requested, on multiple occasions, a transfer to another VA location,” the complaint states. “The VA denied [AR]’s requests for a transfer.”

Also: “[AR] reported these conditions through the proper channels within the VA and did not receive a fair investigation of her report; her allegations were dismissed as false; and she was ultimately fired for pre-textual reasons. The VA was aware of the sexually harassing and discriminatory conduct and failed to take appropriate corrective action with malicious intent and reckless indifference.”

In fact, AR alleges that VA administrators retaliated against her for filing complaints.

AR’s attorney, Pamela Kurt, tells Scene there was at least one other female nurse subject to harassment from Garrett, as well as “other victims of discrimination as well not victimized by Garrett.”

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court records indicate MD Garrett was indicted in July 2013 on three counts of sexual imposition, two counts of gross sexual imposition, and one count of unlawful restraint – charges Kurt says are related to Garrett’s assault of her client. Court records show Garrett pleaded guilty to the three sexual imposition charges and the unlawful restraint charge in exchange for two years probation. He’s now a tier one-sex offender.

AR’s federal suit was filed against VA top man Robert A. McDonald. It dings the government-funded hospital for sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, gender discrimination, retaliation, negligent hiring, retention and supervisor, assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

When reached for comment, Ashley Trimble, a public affairs specialist with the Cleveland VA, told us she couldn't comment on pending litigation. She did provide the following big-picture statement: 

The Cleveland VA Medical Center takes the safety of our Veterans and staff very seriously. Allegations of serious misconduct, including sexual harassment, are referred to VA Police and the VA Office of the Inspector General immediately for investigation. In addition, all VA employees are required to complete annual Workplace Sexual Harassment Training, which details VA policy and reporting procedures.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Missouri Man Who Abducted and Raped 15-Year-Old Cleveland Teen Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 4:38 PM

Update: Christopher Schroeder, the Missouri man who lured, kidnapped and sexually assaulted a 15-year-old Brooklyn girl last year, has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

Schroeder met the girl on Kik, drove to Northeast Ohio, picked her up, removed the SIM card from her cellphone, took her back to Missouri and sexually assaulted her and filmed it. Also, via Cleveland.com: "At his home, he forced her to clean his home and have sex. He forced her to change her appearance and told her she needed to lose weight. He smashed her phone and threw it into a river."

He entered a guilty plea back in July to transporting a minor for sexual activity.

***

(Original story: 12/3/15): A Missouri man kept a fifteen-year-old Ohio girl trapped for weeks in his home 40 miles west of St. Louis where he repeatedly had sex with her, filming at least one of the twisted encounters, authorities say.

Christopher David Schroeder, 41, of Marthasville lured the girl online, offering to pick her up outside of Cleveland after she complained about her parents, according to federal court documents. He held her against her will until Tuesday when Warren County Sheriff's investigators, working off tips from an Ohio task force, raided his home and rescued the teen, police said.

The nightmare began on November 8. The girl told investigators Schroeder disabled her cell phone once she was in his car, smashing the SIM card and removing the battery. They stopped only for gas during the 600-mile drive. Along the way, Schroeder told the girl they were going to have sex when he got her home, authorities said. She protested that she was just fifteen years old.

That didn’t stop Schroeder, authorities say. He’s accused of having sex with the girl multiple times. He also laid down harsh rules, ordering the girl to cut her hair, clean his house and lose weight, according to an affidavit. She wasn’t allowed to tell anyone her real name or use a phone or computer without his permission, authorities said. She told investigators he wouldn’t let her leave, and she was afraid to escape because he kept several guns in the house.

The girl’s worried relatives in Ohio pleaded for help during the weeks she was missing. Her stepfather even snuck onto the set of a new Nicolas Cage movie being filmed in Cleveland, cajoling the action star into posing with a missing poster to bring attention to her disappearance.

The search ended when the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children tracked the disappearance to Schroeder and contacted Warren County deputies. He had used the chat site Kik to chat with the girl online, authorities say.

Schroeder describes himself as an IT professional in a LinkedIn profile, working at companies including Enterprise Holdings, Energizer and Anheuser-Busch during the past 20 years. He also included a list of causes he cares about. “Children” was second on the list.

When investigators searched his home on Tuesday, they confiscated video cameras and a DVR. Two of the cameras were trained on his bed. One of the videos showed Schroeder having sex with the girl, according to the affidavit.

He allegedly told investigators he thought the girl was 18 and claimed that someone else drove her to Missouri, but authorities found a receipt from a McDonald’s in Ohio along with traffic ticket while searching his house and car.

Schroeder appeared on Wednesday in federal court in St. Louis. He was charged with driving the teen across state lines to commit a sex crime and production of child pornography. He faces fifteen years to life in prison if convicted.

Along with the federal charges, Warren County authorities booked him on statutory rape charges.

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Charges Dismissed Against Man Accused of $80,000 Jewel Heist at Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 11:14 AM

Update: The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office on Friday dismissed charges against Hans T. Wrage, the man who late last year was accused of breaking into the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and stealing $80,000 in jewels. The exit from the heist was caught on video, which you can watch in the original story below. Wrage pleaded not guilty to charges of vandalism and grand theft back in December.

Reached for comment by Scene, Prosecutor Office spokesperson Joe Frolik said, "Since investigation continues in that case, we decided to drop charges at this time, reserving the right to refile at a later date."

***

(Original story 12/14/15): Today, the John Carroll University employee nabbed for a five-figure cat burglary at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History made his first appearance in court. Hans T. Wrage, which sounds like a perfect name for a jewelry thief in some B-rate movie, pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from the December 3 jewel heist — even though Wrage was allegedly caught on security video committing the crime. 


The weirdest part of the story: how normal the 36-year-old appears according to his social media footprints. A cruise through Twitter and Instagram accounts listed under Hans Wrage shows a gourmand science nerd with a penchant for long-distance jogs. 

According to Cleveland.com, Wrage is currently facing fourth-degree felony grand theft charge. Cleveland PD say the JCU employee stole minerals and seven sapphires from the museum's collection, allegedly smashing through the displays with a pillow case. The jewels and minerals have reportedly not been found. 

Wrage works as a "teaching and research support technician" in JCU's physics department, according to the university's web site. Social media doesn't exactly paint the picture of a career criminal. Wrage usually posts food pics, updates about marathons, and links to science articles. He last posted on Twitter on December 5. 



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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Updated: Hard Rockers AC/DC Reschedule Concert at the Q

Concert Announcement

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 8:50 AM

JOSH CHEUSE
  • Josh Cheuse
Updated: Hard rockers AC/DC have just announced full details of their re-scheduled tour dates. The AC/DC Rock or Bust World Tour returns to the States for 10 final shows in August and September with the current line-up of Angus Young, Cliff Williams, Stevie Young, Chris Slade and guest singer Axl Rose of Guns N Roses. The group performs at Quicken Loans Arena on Sept. 6.

Earlier this year, singer Brian Johnson had to leave the U.S. tour after being advised by doctors that he risked total hearing loss if he continued to perform live. The group continued to tour with Rose handling lead vocals.

"This band has got a ton of energy and you're going to see a fusion of all that terrific chemistry that we have felt ever since rehearsals in Lisbon," says Angus Young in a  press release. "I want to get back out there onstage in the US with these guys so our audience can see and feel it too."

Continue reading »

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Rock Hall Announces 2016 Inductees (Updated)

Music News

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 2:10 PM

COURTESY OF THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM
  • Courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has just announced that Kendrick Lamar and Kid Rock will be presenters at the upcoming inductions. Lamar will induct N.W.A and Rock will induct Cheap Trick.

***

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has just announced that it will host an exclusive live broadcast of the Induction Ceremony, which takes place this year at the Barclays Center in New York.

Outside of the Barclays Center, the Rock Hall will be the only place to watch the Induction Ceremony on the night of the event. Doors for the simulcast open at 6:30 p.m., and the broadcast begins at 7 p.m. A Rock Hall member presale will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16, and tickets for the simulcast will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 17, via tickets.rockhall.com, and at the Rock Hall’s box office.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Alternative Press Announces Date for 2016 Music Awards (Updated)

Music News

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 1:10 PM

Undeterred by the fact that the Republican National Convention prevented it from holding its music awards at the Q, Alternative Press magazine has announced plans to go "head to head" with the convention and compete with it for media attention. And it's also announced that All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat – eight-time AP cover stars– will return to host this year’s event.

"We are so happy to be returning to the APMA’s this year to host,” says the duo in a press release. “Last year we didn’t make a lot of new friends (sad face emoji), so this year – we’re coming back as something no one can hate, politicians! We look forward to being part of this Punk Rock Convention. Get ready to vote — stay tuned.”

Dubbed “The GRAMMYs of Alternative Music,” last year’s event achieved over one million views on AXS TV and over three million views on YouTube.


***

Alternative Press magazine has announced that its annual music awards, slated for July 18, will take place at Value City Arena in Columbus. Previously, AP had only announced the date of the awards and that they would remain in Ohio. According to the AP website, tickets will go on sale "soon."

***

When the Alternative Press Music Awards took place last July at the Q, Alternative Press publisher Mike Shea admitted that he was concerned about where he would host the music magazine’s awards in 2016 when the Republican National Convention was set to visit Cleveland and occupy the Q at roughly the same time.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Local Musician Forms New Band to Protest Rock Hall's Exclusion of Prog Rock Acts (Updated)

Music News

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 9:15 AM

COURTESY OF TONY CUDA
  • Courtesy of Tony Cuda
ProgNation, the local tribute act that formed last year in response to what members perceive as the exclusion of prog acts from the Rock Hall, has just announced a series of concerts. The first show takes place at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19, at New Heights Grille in Cleveland Heights. The Cigars, a rock group featuring Rick Christyson, will open.  Tickets are $8 at the door, but the band is offering discounted tickets that cost only $5.  Email band leader Anthony Cuda at tcuda@msn.com if you're interested in obtaining a discounted ticket.

***

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