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A civil lawsuit against Rocky Mountain College by a former employee has been settled.

The suit was dismissed with prejudice, which means that it cannot be refilled, according to court documents.

Shari VanDelinder, the former development director at Rocky, filed a lawsuit against the college and its president, Michael Mace, in state District Court in May 2010 that listed complaints of assault and infliction of emotional distress.

Dan Burkhart, director of news and information for Rocky, said Tuesday that the settlement terms are confidential and there would be no other comment.

In the lawsuit, VanDelinder alleged that Mace screamed at her while she was working on several occasions, including once when he walked toward her as she backed up against a door. Mace continued to yell and rammed his finger into the door next to her ear, the suit said.

VanDelinder also claimed that Mace’s treatment of her resulted in her having headaches, insomnia and panic attacks.

VanDelinder sought help dealing with Mace from college human resources personnel and Barb Skelton, then the chairperson of the Rocky board of trustees.

Skelton questioned VanDelinder about her complaints. Skelton told VanDelinder to report to Skelton or human resources if she had any more problems with Mace.

Having Skelton handle VanDeLinder’s grievance was a violation of the college’s conflict-of-interest policies, the suit claimed, because Skelton was board chairperson and she operates an equestrian facility used by Rocky students. Skelton also was on the board when Mace was named president of the college.

Vandelinder was seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and costs related to the suit.

The college denied the accusations, including that Mace had been violent or abusive to VanDelinder.

Burkhart said Tuesday that trustees have stood behind Mace since the lawsuit was filed.

Contacted in Arizona where she now lives, VanDelinder said she couldn’t say much about how the lawsuit ended other than “it’s over.”

“I’m very sad because I couldn’t bring out the truth,” she said. “I fought hard, and I wanted the truth to come out. It’s painful that it turned out the way it did.”

The decision to bring the suit against the college was very difficult, she said, adding that the suit had nothing to do with money.

VanDelinder’s husband, Curt, has been seriously ill and she has been caring for him as well as working.

“I wish nothing but the best for the college,” she said. “Rocky is awesome and can flourish, but the situation there is not good.”

Contact Mary Pickett at mpickett@billingsgazette.com or 657-1262.

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