published Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Councilman Charles Sharrock faces 3rd sex harassment complaint

The City Council in Fort Oglethorpe will go into closed session Monday night to discuss a sexual harassment complaint a female city police detective made against Councilman Charles Sharrock.

This is the third time a city employee has accused Sharrock of sexual harassment, City Manager Ron Goulart said.

This time, Sharrock is accused of touching the detective on Oct. 9 at the police department, which prompted the complaint, said Goulart, who declined to release the detective's name.

The other incidents occurred in 2008 and 2009, Goulart said.

Sharrock, Mayor Lynn Long and Councilmen Johnny "Red" Smith and Louis Hamm all declined to comment.

"We will address this issue [Monday night]," Long said.

Sharrock told a television news reporter that the detective who complained about him had made disparaging remarks about two other city councilmen, but Goulart said that's not true.

"I want to make it perfectly clear that there is definitely no merit to any of that," he said.

An employee can file a sexual harassment claim against a council member, but because they're elected, they're not subject to the same disciplinary measures that city employees are, Goulart said.

"An employee can be disciplined, moved, transferred, demoted, given a verbal reprimand ... even terminated," Goulart said. "You can't demote a councilman."

However, if the City Council decides the complaint against Sharrock is legitimate, it could censure him. The most extreme action City Council could take, under the City Charter, would be to remove a sitting council member if the offense is deemed serious enough, Goulart said.

"I've never seen it done before," he said.

The city has insurance through Travelers Insurance, which has hosted sexual harassment training sessions for city employees and council members, including Sharrock.

"We all went through it," Goulart said. "I have my certificate on the wall."

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township┬╣s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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