WL city councilor accused of sexual harassment
A member of West Linn's Committee for Citizen Involvement (CCI) publicly accused City Councilor Bob Martin of sexual harassment during a council work session Monday, Feb. 5.
Emily Smith, who is the business representative of a seven-person committee that includes Martin and Mayor Russ Axelrod, leveled the accusation in a prepared statement during the community comment segment of the work session.
"For the last year I've been on Committee for Citizen Involvement … During that time I've deflected repeated and unwanted sexual advances," Smith said. "When this process started the last thing I wanted was to be in public spotlight. But I believe the community deserves to know the truth about their elected officials and the lack of accountability over serious misconduct. I believe I have been sexually harassed by Councilor Bob Martin."
Smith said that what she saw as the City's lack of policy on the matter prompted her to come forward publicly.
"I ask for the governing body to investigate and take all appropriate steps to prevent myself and others from experiencing any further misconduct on the part of our elected officials," she said. "I'm disappointed that it has escalated to point where I have to be here tonight."
Martin was not present at the work session. As he called the meeting to order shortly before Smith's statement, Axelrod noted that Martin had abruptly walked out of the closed executive session that took place just before the work session due to a disagreement about council matters, and that he would not return.
In response to Smith's claims, Axelrod called on the City to investigate.
"I will say that sexual harassment in any form is completely unacceptable," Axelrod said. "And sexual harassment is taken very seriously at the City, and I would expect the City to investigate."
City Attorney Tim Ramis said the first step would be to consult with the Human Resources department.
"After a conversation with them, we should independently have the facts reviewed," Ramis said.
Martin did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
Thursday evening, the City of West Linn issued a press release regarding the allegations.
"The City of West Linn is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment and takes all sexual harassment complaints seriously," Citizen Engagement Coordinator Courtney Flynn said in the release. "Currently the City is initiating a process to further investigate the claims made at the Feb. 5, 2018 City Council meeting."
Flynn went on to say that the City Council will develop a set of conduct standards for elected officials and volunteers.
"The policy will set clear standards for conduct, a process for reporting harassment claims and ramifications for violating the policy," Flynn said.
"The City of West Linn has a personnel policy that outlines the expectations and reporting process of employees as it relates to harassment. Members of the City Council are not employees of the City, therefore the council will be developing its own policy."