Sgt. David Bonenberger Awarded $620,000 for "Reverse Discrimination" by St. Louis Police

Danny Wicentowski
Sgt. David Bonenberger.
Sgt. David Bonenberger's lawsuit against the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for racial discrimination ended in victory yesterday, when a federal jury agreed that Bonenberger, who is white, was unfairly passed over for a position in favor of another candidate simply because she was black.

"I wanted to give the police department an opportunity to make it right," Bonenberger said at a press conference today at his lawyer's office. "I had no choice. I couldn't roll over and let it go. I had to stand up for myself and everyone else who was employed by the police department."

The twenty-year veteran of the force was awarded $620,000 by the jury roughly three years after Bonenberger first sent in an application to become the assistant director of the police academy in September, 2010. The civil suit claimed that Bonenberger's superiors told him they had already decided to give the job to an African American female sergeant named Angela Taylor.

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Sugar Daddy Website Wants to Foot the Bill for Three St. Louis Divorces

via Ambro
Broke and trapped? wants to bust you out!
The dating website -- the site that connects wealthy suitors with cash-strapped "sugar babies" -- is celebrating its tenth anniversary in a very unique way. They'd like to encourage you to break up.

"A lot of the divorced men and women out there would rather be living the sugar-daddy-sugar-baby lifestyle," says Darren Shuster, spokesman for the site. "Not everyone is cut out for the white picket fence."

So for three unhappily married couples in St. Louis, the site would like to offer an escape hatch: a free divorce.

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Family of Rebecca Zahau Files Wrongful Death Suit, Alleges Hanging Was Murder Plot

The Rebecca Zahau Fund
Rebecca Zahau
The family of the late Rebecca Zahau, who resides in St. Joseph, filed suit in federal court this week alleging that the woman did not commit suicide in 2011, but was in fact murdered.

Zahau was discovered hanging by her neck at the mansion home of her boyfriend, Medicis Pharmaceuticals CEO Jonah Shacknai. She died two days after Shacknai's six-year-old son, Max, was discovered mortally injured on the stone floor below a balcony. He was in Zahau's care at the time of his fall. She had reportedly stated she was in the bathroom when Max tumbled over the railing. Max's death was ruled an accident; Zahau's, a suicide.

Ever since the deaths in July 2011, the Zahau family maintained Rebecca was murdered in retaliation for Max's accident. Now, they've named the people they believe are responsible in the lawsuit.

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Street Performers Win Temporary Injunction Against City of St. Louis Buskering Law

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Courtesy Fred Walker
Fred Walker
Calling all scofflaw buskers -- if you were putting off getting your 2013 street performer's license, this is the month to do it.

A judge issued a preliminary injunction yesterday prohibiting the city of St. Louis from enforcing the latest updates to its buskering law, which bumped up the price of the performer's license from $25 to $100.

"Even when a licensing fee is permissible in the Free Speech context, the government may charge no more than the amount needed to cover administrative costs," Judge Catherine Perry writes. "The proponent of the licensing fee must show that the amount of the fee is 'reasonably related to the expenses incident to the administration of the ordinance and to the maintenance of public safety and order.'"

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Vinita Park Mayor James McGee's Secretly Recorded Race Comments (AUDIO)

Mayor James McGee.
Over the course of several months in 2011, eight police officers for the city of Vinita Park were fired, resigned or took jobs with other departments. This was an unprecedented amount of turnover in the small north-county town. More than half the department, including the chief, was suddenly gone.

According to a lawsuit filed by five of those officers, Vinita Park city officials terminated or forced the officers out because they are white. African American officers kept their jobs, and the majority of the replacement hires were black also.

The allegation might sound far-fetched, but attorneys for the officers believe they have a smoking gun -- a secretly recorded conversation of Vinita Park mayor James McGee, the subject of this week's cover story. On the tape, McGee speaks in blunt terms about racial tension in the city and his role in the termination of the white police officers.

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Street Musicians, ACLU Sue City of St. Louis Over Permit Law Requiring Fees, Auditions

Courtesy ACLU
Frederick Walker
When saxophonist Frederick Walker retired from his band "Mystic Voyage" after 21 years, he decided he didn't want to hang it up completely. He took his talents to the streets, specifically the 9th Street side of the Soulard Market, to try his hand at buskering.

"I'm 70 years old and I thought it was time to give up jumping up and down on tables and chairs," he says. "I decided to slow down."

Walker says before long a city official approached him and told him he needed a permit. There was also a required audition (though Walker never actually had to complete one since, he figures, the city official saw him playing on the street).

"He saw me. He knows I can play," says Walker.

The fee, however, was another matter.

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Sandra Lupo, Former Hooter's Waitress, Sues Breastaurant Chain for Discrimination

Sandra Lupo Hooters.jpg
Sandra Lupo says she was effectively let go for having a shaved head after surgery.
Sandra Lupo knew something was seriously wrong when she suddenly felt a numb, tingling sensation running along the left side of her body down to her toes. After she was admitted to the emergency room, a series of tests revealed a mass in the right side of her brain that had burst and was bleeding inside her skull. Doctors told her that without immediate surgery to remove the clot, there was a chance she could die.

Lupo, who had been a waitress at the St. Peters location of Hooters since 2005, says she called and told her bosses that she was going into brain surgery. The procedure, which required drilling holes into and opening up the skull, meant Lupo's long, dark hair would have be shaved off.

"They said, 'Don't worry about it, no big deal,'" recalls Lupo.

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A. Peter Mutharika, Former Wash. U. Law Professor, Charged with Treason in Malawi [UPDATE]

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Arthur Peter Mutharika
Update: Washington University has released a very brief statement on Peter Mutharika.

A former Washington University law professor was jailed earlier this month in Malawi after he and ten others were charged with trying to overthrow the current presidential administration.

A. Peter Mutharika was a law professor for 39 years in St. Louis before he returned to his native Malawi in 2011 to help his older brother, President Bingu wa Mutharika, in his final presidential term. The younger Mutharika was favored to succeed his brother in the 2014 elections.

Those plans were thrown into turmoil in April of 2012, when President Mutharika suddenly died of a heart attack and his vice president took his place.

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Lawsuit Reveals Vast Profits at City Museum as Battle Continues Over Ownership

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City Museum: As profitable as it is whimsical.
City Museum clears millions of dollars in profits each year, according to financials made public this month in a protracted legal battle that has pitted City Museum founder Bob Cassilly's widow, Giovanna, against her husband's former business partner, David Jump.

In the lawsuit's latest skirmish this month, a St. Louis judge blocked Jump's attempt to seize control of the downtown attraction and the old shoe factory that houses it, International Building Co., from Giovanna and other members of Cassilly's estate.

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Sue Gibson, HIV Patient in Castlewood Case: Other Patients May Have Been Denied Care

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via YouTube
Susan Gibson says she was denied treatment at Castlewood Treatment Center.
The Department of Justice agreed last week that a St. Louis eating disorder clinic discriminated against an HIV-positive woman by intentionally delaying her admittance and denying her treatment. Castlewood Treatment Center for Eating Disorders has been ordered to pay a $140,000 settlement, the second largest in the history of HIV-related discrimination cases.

The patient, Susan Gibson, a retired nurse living in mid-Missouri, spoke to Daily RFT about her health during the seven months of waiting to hear from the facility and her fear that other patients may have been discriminated against.

"It angers me they would treat people like that and for such a stupid reason," she says.

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