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Mississippi River shoreline golf course for sale after owner sexually harasses workers

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn.—A Cottage Grove golf course may go out of business, months after a judge ruled that its owner sexually harassed employees.

The 18-hole Mississippi Dunes course is for sale, after owner William Doebler was found to have groped female employees in a nearby house nicknamed "The Brothel."

The property, 185 acres along the Mississippi River, is listed by Edina Realty for $10 million. The listing says the property could continue as a golf course, but focuses more on its potential for residential development.

"It has good views of the water, about 2,600 feet on the Mississippi River — a beautiful site for homes," said Dave Johnson of Edina Realty.

On Tuesday, it was not clear if the course was open. Facebook pages for the course were shut down, and the website showed no availability for tee times. A person answering the phone declined to answer questions.

The course is being sold after the Washington County District Court convicted Doebler of sexual harassment in August.

According to court records, the 70-year-old Doebler drank heavily while working at his golf course in 2014. He harassed three part-time workers, touching them in a sexual way and making vulgar comments. When they threatened to talk with police, Doebler retaliated by firing the women and a bar manager. The harassment happened in a house near the golf course nicknamed "The Brothel," for reasons that were not explained. It is one of three houses owned by Doebler.

The court fined Doebler and the golf course a total of $150,000.

The future of the course may be in question, but officials think it has good potential as a housing project.

Listing agent Johnson said it has been on the market for about a month, and he has had three inquiries.

Many newly built communities have amenities such as clubhouses, he said. But a residential developer could piggyback on the amenities that the golf course already has. Those include the Doc's Landing restaurant, a banquet facility and a large pole shed that could be used for storing items such as residents' cars.

Cottage Grove Community Development Director Jennifer Levitt said the city has met with developers regarding the site.

She said residential development would require rezoning, utility extensions and a comprehensive plan amendment. The process would take several steps, she said, but it is "definitely doable."

This report includes information from the Forum News Service.