Discrimination Lawsuit Against St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell Delayed Until Next Year, Amid Congressional Run

CLAYTON, Mo. – The much-anticipated discrimination lawsuit trial against St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell has been postponed until next year. The trial, which was originally scheduled to begin on Monday, will now take place on January 27, according to St. Louis County Circuit Judge Bruce Hilton. The delay comes after lawyers Jerome Dobson and Gregory Rich, representing Susan Petersen, a former longtime prosecutor who was fired by Bell in October 2019, requested more time.

Petersen filed the lawsuit in October 2020, claiming that she worked in the prosecutor’s office for 21 years before being fired. The lawsuit also alleges that she was one of five prosecutors who either quit or were forced out during Bell’s first term. Petersen, who now serves as lead counsel for the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 15, is seeking at least $100,000 in damages from the county.

Bell, who is currently running for Congress, had sought to delay the trial until after the Democratic primary on August 6. However, his request was denied. The case took a turn when Hilton ordered a new deposition, in which Bell would have to answer questions he had previously avoided. The deposition sought information about sexual relations within Bell’s office, but the name of the person who refused to answer these questions has been redacted from court records. Although former state legislator Maria Chappelle-Nadal publicly stated that it was Bell who refused to answer, Bell declined to comment.

Petersen’s attorneys successfully argued that questions about sexual behavior under Bell’s management are relevant, as they shed light on the office’s treatment and attitude towards women. The trial will now proceed in January, well after Bell’s congressional run.