Milwaukee, WI- The billionaire owner of Menard’s a chain of Wisconsin home improvement stores has been accused of asking his money manager’s wife for sexual favors or face “financial consequences,” at least that is what a new lawsuit filed by Tomisue Hilbert alleges.
The lawsuit, filed at the end of May in Hamilton County, Indiana, details a number of salacious allegations against John Menard Jr. which pits once business partners and friends, who socialized together, against one another.
Tomisue Hilbert and her husband Stephen became acquainted with Menard in 1994 when the insurance company that Stephen worked for, Conseco Inc., agreed to sponsor Menard’s racing team, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Over time, the business and personal relationship between the Hilberts and Menard grew; they traveled together, frequently visiting the Hilberts’ vacation home in the Caribbean. It was during these frequent trips, that the lawsuit alleges Menard began “taking advantage” of their relationship, allowing others to cover his numerous expenses despite the fact that he is billionaire.
In 2005, Menard and the Hilbert’s established a private equity firm, MH Equity, together with Menard contributing hundreds of millions to the firm.
Also around this time, Menard broke things off with his fiancé and began dating another woman named Fay who later became his wife. Menard and Fay visited the Hilberts twice in the Caribbean, and it was during their second visit that Menard changed, he became a “different person” the lawsuit states.
Menard, whose estimated wealth is $7 billion, began to make sexual advances towards Ms. Hilbert, touching and groping her against her will regardless of her numerous objections, the Journal Sentinel reported. The lawsuit also alleges that during this same visit Menard asked Ms. Hilbert to join him and his wife for a sexual liaison after her husband had already gone to bed.
“Mr. Menard further told Mrs. Hilbert that if she refused his advances there would be serious ‘financial consequences,’” the lawsuit states.
Ms. Hilbert attributed Menard’s request to his level of intoxication, however, Menard continued to pursue her following the incident at her vacation house and talked frequently about sex. Ms. Hilbert continued to ignore Menard’s ongoing sexual pursuit, and in late 2011 he began withholding funds from the private equity firm he and the Hilberts ran together. Menard subsequently removed Stephen Hilbert as manager.
Tomisue Hilbert’s lawsuit against Menard alleges, among other charges, breach of fiduciary duty and assault and battery, but she did not report the assault to police.
To Menard’s attorney, her failure to report the alleged assault to police is indicative of his client’s innocence.
Menard’s attorneys, also, deny the Hilbert’s allegations and in a previous lawsuit asserted that Stephen Hilbert was dismissed for “reckless fund management.”
“Did John Menard engage in some sort of inappropriate personal behavior toward Tomisue Hilbert? The answer is no,” attorney Kevin Tyra said according to the Journal Star. “He categorically denies engaging in the inappropriate conduct Ms. Hilbert alleges in her complaint.”
It will be up to a court to decide the validity of Ms. Hilbert’s complaints, but this type of harassment, referred to as quid pro quo—this for that—is not uncommon for people who hold a position of power.