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Police sergeant testifies he was told to tone down ‘gayness’

October 23, 2019 GMT
St. Louis County police Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, center, flanked by his attorneys Sam Moore, left, and Russell Riggan, right, leave the St. Louis County justice center during lunch break on the first day of Wildhaber's discrimination case against the county, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Clayton, Mo. Wildhaber, an Army veteran and a St. Louis County cop, hasn't been fired for his sexuality, but, he alleges in a lawsuit filed in 2017, he was passed over for promotion because of it, and then retaliated against when he sought legal redress. (Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
St. Louis County police Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, center, flanked by his attorneys Sam Moore, left, and Russell Riggan, right, leave the St. Louis County justice center during lunch break on the first day of Wildhaber's discrimination case against the county, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Clayton, Mo. Wildhaber, an Army veteran and a St. Louis County cop, hasn't been fired for his sexuality, but, he alleges in a lawsuit filed in 2017, he was passed over for promotion because of it, and then retaliated against when he sought legal redress. (Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

CLAYTON, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis County police sergeant has testified that he was told to “tone down his gayness” to secure a promotion to lieutenant.

Keith Wildhaber testified at trial Tuesday that former St. Louis County Police Board of Commissioners member John Saracino issued the guidance in 2014.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Wildhaber says the remark made him feel like he had “been punched in the gut.” He testified that he thought he would be evaluated for the position based on his body of work, “not the fact that I was gay.”

Saracino has denied he made the comment.

Wildhaber sued the department for employment discrimination in 2017.

County Counselor Mike Hughes says the reason Wildhaber was passed over for promotion had nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com