Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Women sue Winter Carnival, Vulcans, over lewd behavior

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"We are taking the position that he was negligent in allowing the conduct to take place," said the women's attorney, Philip Villaume, center. He's flanked by Kate V Richardson, left, and Jamie L. Kissel, right. (MPR Photo/Marisa Helms)

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) Two waitresses from a downtown bar have commenced a lawsuit against the St. Paul Winter Carnival, several members of the 2005 Vulcan Krewe and others after the women were allegedly groped by then Vulcan King Thomas Clifford Trudeau.

The lawsuit alleges the women were inappropriately touched on their genitals, breasts and buttocks during garter and pin ceremonies at Alary's Bar late Feb. 1.

The women allege they were surrounded by costumed Vulcans who erected a sort of curtain around them with their capes, and then molested by Trudeau.

Bar owner and operator Albert D. Baisi Jr. was also named in the lawsuit. The women allege he told them to participate in the ceremonies.

"We are taking the position that he was negligent in allowing the conduct to take place," said the women's attorney, Philip Villaume.

He said the defendants were being served with papers Thursday, but the complaint had not yet been filed in Ramsey County District Court.

Villaume said the young women, Jamie L. Kissel and Kate V. Richardson, were traumatized by the incident and were both receiving counseling. The lawsuit seeks a minimum of $50,000 in damages.

Trudeau, 54, was criminally charged with three gross misdemeanors for groping three women at the bar, but only two are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Trudeau was convicted and sentence in July to two years of probation, community service and a $500 fine.

He apologized to the women. During sentencing, his criminal attorney, Kate Latimer, said the incident had cost him his job as a restaurant manager.

In response to the incident, the Winter Carnival suspended the 2005 Vulcan Krewe and ordered future Krewes to wear their real names on their costumes. In the past they have used character names, including "Baron Hot Sparkus" and "Grand Duke Fertilious."

The new Vulcans will also stop placing garters on women's legs and attaching pins to their clothing. They will also take sexual harassment and cultural sensitivity training.

Kate Kelly, president and chief executive officer of the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation, which puts on the Winter Carnival, said she could not comment directly on the lawsuit.

"What I can tell you is that what happened was wrong," she said. She noted the restrictions put on future Vulcans in response to the incident.

Messages left with Alary's Bar and Trudeau's attorney, Deborah Ellis, were not immediately returned Thursday.

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