Funeral home director and DMACC accused in sexual harassment lawsuits

By: - February 10, 2021 8:49 am

The Iowa Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit June 18 over the state’s water quality. (Creative Commons photo via Pxhere)

A Des Moines Area Community College student is suing the school, alleging she was the victim of sexual assault and harassment at the hands of an Iowa funeral home director.

The woman alleges the funeral home director assaulted her while the two were transporting bodies and while they worked in a funeral home’s embalming room.

The allegations are contained in two separate lawsuits — one filed in federal court against DMACC and one filed in state court against 51-year-old Leroy Winfield II, owner of Cremation Services of Iowa and Winfield Funeral Home, both located in Marion County.

In the two lawsuits, Megan Loyd of Marion County alleges that in the fall of 2018, she was studying mortuary science at DMACC. As part of her studies, she was working under the supervision of Winfield, who served as her preceptor.

According to the lawsuits, Loyd began working for Winfield Funeral Home a few weeks before Winfield married and departed on his honeymoon. When he returned a few days later, he allegedly began asking Loyd to describe her underwear for him and began pressing his body against hers every time they were working together in the embalming room.

In October 2018, Loyd and Winfield were returning from funeral services in Eddyville when Winfield allegedly pulled off the highway and asked Loyd to have sex with him. When she refused, he allegedly offered her $400 to disrobe, which she also refused.

In December 2018, Loyd and Winfield were allegedly in a car together returning to Knoxville from Newton where they had picked up two bodies to be cremated. While driving the car along Highway 14, Winfield allegedly began masturbating. Loyd reportedly told Winfield to pull over, at which point she got out of the car and instructed him to drive her back to Knoxville without speaking and with both of his hands on the wheel.

After arriving at the crematorium with the two bodies, Winfield allegedly tried to kiss Loyd. According to Loyd, she punched him, got out of the vehicle, and the next day reported Winfield’s conduct to DMACC officials.

In her federal lawsuit, Loyd alleges the school informed her she was free to look for another funeral home director to serve as her preceptor, but did not terminate its relationship with Winfield or assist in her locating a new preceptor.

The federal lawsuit claims that as a result of Winfield’s harassment and assault, Loyd suffered academically and was not able complete her studies in a timely fashion. It seeks unspecified damages from DMACC for Title IX violations related to sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

In its response, DMACC denies any wrongdoing and argues that Loyd “unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities, or to otherwise avoid harm.”

Last spring, Loyd and another woman, Chelsa Rice, sued Winfield in Iowa District Court. As part of that lawsuit, Rice alleged that as soon she began working for Winfield as an administrative assistant, in September 2016, Winfield began making sexual comments to her. He allegedly told Rice he thought of her while masturbating and he assigned her chores that required her to bend over or come to his house.

Rice and Loyd also claimed Winfield “frequently kept personal items belonging to decedents” and didn’t return them to the families, as dictated by industry standards.

Loyd and Rice sued Winfield for assault and battery, sexual harassment, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress and creating a hostile work environment.

Winfield denied the allegations and in December, the case was dismissed at their attorney’s request. The available court records do not indicate whether the dismissal was the result of a settlement.

Winfield’s license with the Iowa Board of Mortuary Science is in good standing with no record of any public discipline in the 27 years he has been licensed.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.