- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A former University of Minnesota women’s golf coach was discriminated against because she’s a lesbian and is entitled to nearly $360,000, a Hennepin County judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Thomas Sipkins found that former coach Kathryn Brenny is entitled to double her back pay and compensation for mental anguish - in all, $359,588, plus attorneys’ fees, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1p9c0ZL) reported.

Brenny’s treatment by the school and by John Harris, a former pro golfer who was then head of the university’s golf program, was discriminatory and broke the law, Sipkins said in a 38-page ruling.

“These adverse actions by Harris as the University’s director of golf were intentional and motivated by his discriminatory animus toward Brenny because of her sexual orientation,” the judge found.

Brenny, who spent less than two months as the university’s women’s golf coach, originally named Harris as a defendant, along with the university, but in May 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed the claim against him.

Harris resigned as head of the school’s golf program in June 2011, five months after Brenny sued. He did not respond to an email request from the newspaper for comment.

The university says it’s disappointed and will review the findings.

The ruling comes four months after a nine-day trial before Sipkins with no jury.

The judge found that university officials, including then-athletic director Joel Maturi, “consistently deferred to Mr. Harris’s wishes” and “this deference permitted Mr. Harris’s conduct toward, and treatment of, Ms. Brenny and led to the adverse employment actions which he took against her.”

Donald Chance Mark Jr., the attorney who represented Brenny, said he and his client were “absolutely gratified” with the ruling.

“We feel it is a complete vindication for what Katie has been saying all along about her treatment at the university,” he said.

Brenny now works for the U.S. Golf Association in New York.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com