CLAYTON, Mo. ( -- St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the county settled the discrimination lawsuit with gay police officer, Lieutenant Keith Wildhaber.

Page announced the settlement they reached was for about $10.25 million. 

“Which is substantially less than the $20 million judgement by the jury. And substantially less than up to $22 million which is what it could have cost us during an 18-month appeal,” Page said Monday in a press conference.

A jury awarded Wildhaber nearly $20 million in his lawsuit that said he was passed over for promotion because he is gay. He even said he was told to “tone down his gayness.”

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber resized

The settlement will be paid through general revenue which includes sales and property tax funds, Page said. He said he instructed the county that the settlement would not be paid through Proposition P.

Page said the county will plan to bond the money over 10 to 30 years, adding that the county's budget will likely be affected about $500,000-$600,000 each year over that time.

"Once we receive our reimbursement from our insurance claim, we'll be able to pay those bonds off early," Page said.

The county council will have to approve the bonds.

After the lawsuit, Wildhaber was promoted to lieutenant and was named the commander of St. Louis County Police Department’s new Diversity and Inclusion Unit

Wildhaber's attorneys later released a statement about the settlement saying some of the changes made since the verdict are positive.

If you're using the KMOV app, click here to see the full statement.

On Monday, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar announced his retirement at the end of April. He was appointed chief in January 2014.

Page said Belmar's retirement was not part of the settlement. 

"The chief had confided in me even before I became county executive that he would consider retiring in 2020 so I think this has always been in his mind. I believe the chief wanted to make sure we moved forward and got the department on the right track after this settlement," Page said.

Page released the following statement regarding the settlement Tuesday:

"Yesterday, St. Louis County settled the discrimination lawsuit with Lt. Keith Wildhaber.

I want to start by recognizing Lt. Wildhaber’s experience – no one should be made to feel less than by their employer because of who they love. Discrimination is not the path forward for us as people, nor is it the way we should get ahead as a county.

The $10.25M settlement was fair compromise to both Lt. Wildhaber and the County. It serves as compensation for what Lt. Wildhaber experienced, but it also saved the County at least $11M.

The entirety of the settlement will be paid from the County’s General Revenue. I know there has been concern about how the County will cover this, and I assure you that none of the funds will be redirected from Prop P. Voters adopted Proposition P to fund public safety investments, and that is where that money will stay. Instead, we are planning to bond the settlement out of the General Fund. We expect to be reimbursed by our insurance carriers and these funds will get back in to the General Fund.

This case was a symptom of the discrimination that is pervasive in our culture. It is not something that can be blamed on any one person or department. It is, however, a significant message for the County, and all of us who care about fair treatment. Discrimination isn’t always obvious. It is even more likely to be quiet and insidious.

My administration has made it clear that discrimination – of any kind – will not be tolerated. We are consistently working toward policies and legislation that turn these values into action. This is not simply a County issue. It is the responsibility of every St. Louis County resident, Missourian, and American to be a voice for the most vulnerable in our society.

Today, we continue dialogues about our future and how St. Louis County can lead the change to prevent and address discrimination – whether that is in the community or within our departments. I am confident that we can accomplish great things together."

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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