Judge upholds ouster of Fort Oglethorpe councilman for sexual harassment

Judge upholds ouster of Fort Oglethorpe councilman for sexual harassment

July 11th, 2013 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

Charles Sharrock

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RINGGOLD, Ga. - In a ruling filed Wednesday, Catoosa County Superior Court Judge Jon "Bo" Wood upheld the Fort Oglethorpe City Council's Nov. 27 decision to oust councilman Charles Sharrock for sexual harassment.

The preponderance of evidence showed that Sharrock committed illegal conduct in performance of his office, the judge wrote, "which is unbecoming the character of a public officer."

Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Lynn Long said, "To be quite honest with you, I'm not surprised at all. I think this one was pretty clean-cut."

The then-council voted unanimously to oust Sharrock, the mayor said.

"[Councilman] Earl Gray made the motion to remove him. [Councilman] Eddie Stinnett made the second," Long said. "Have you ever seen Earl Gray or Eddie Stinnett side with the mayor?"

Stinnett died of a heart attack shortly after the vote. Gray remains on the council.

In a three-page order, Wood wrote that Sharrock was familiar with the city's sexual harassment policy when the first complaint was made against him in 2008 by a female city employee. Sharrock also attended a sexual harassment workshop, the judge wrote.

In 2009, after another female employee complained, Sharrock agreed not to have any physical contact with any female employees, Wood wrote.

Then, in October 2010, Sharrock hugged a female employee, rubbed her back, squeezed and kissed her, Wood wrote.

Sharrock filed a lawsuit seeking to be reinstated. His Ringgold-based attorney, Renzo Wiggins, didn't return a call seeking comment and was not available when a reporter visited his office.

The mayor said Sharrock has 30 days to appeal.

"Unless he appeals to a higher court, then it's over," Long said.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@times freepress.com or 423-757-6651.