VPD officer and city reach settlement after lawsuit, request to seal complaint
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VPD officer and city reach settlement after lawsuit, request to seal complaint

A Vermillion police officer and the city of Vermillion have agreed to a settlement following a lawsuit against the city and Vermillion chief of police, but requested the permanent sealing of the complaint.

Patrol officer Jessica Newman sued Vermillion and Chief of Police Matthew Betzen in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota on Sept. 6, the Argus Leader reported Thursday afternoon. Both parties requested to seal the complaint permanently or remove the filing on the same day. 

Judge Larry Piersol denied the motion on Wednesday, stating “no good cause has been shown for removing the Complaint from filing.”

Piersol agreed to seal the complaint for 30 days while Newman and the city negotiated a settlement. They reached one on Oct. 6.

Newman filed a Charge of Discrimination with the South Dakota Division of Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on May 1, 2018, stating the first event of discrimination took place on June 12, 2013, three months after her she was hired. Newman is the only woman of 19 sworn VPD officers.

The Argus Leader asked for a copy of the agreement, which holds Newman’s allegations against Betzen and details of their settlement, on Thursday, Oct. 24.

The same day, The Argus Leader filed a formal motion for the release of the documents. Argus Leader reporter Jonathon Ellis said he expects the complaint to be unsealed this week.

This is an ongoing story. Check back later for updated information on the motion.