The council voted unanimously Monday night to move forward with an investigation into allegations against council member Charles Sharrock, who is serving his second four-year term and is now in his fifth year on the council.
"The council and mayor met in executive session Monday night to discuss the process from the city charter regarding the removal of officers," city manager Ron Goulart said. "The matter was discussed, then the council and mayor reconvened in public and voted 4-0 to proceed with that process."
Sharrock declined this morning to comment on the matter.
The ordeal began with the accusation that Sharrock allegedly sexually harassed the female detective by touching her.
Goulart confirmed that the incident in question is the third such accusation against Sharrock by a city employee since 2008.
Goulart said the next step in the process is a public hearing involving both parties before the mayor and council, followed by a decision on whether to remove Sharrock from office.
"He (Sharrock) must be served with the allegations, then upon being served, a subsequent public hearing would take place to determine the merit of the allegations, where both parties and their attorneys would present evidence and witnesses to the mayor and council," Goulart said. "After the hearing, the council would then deliberate the matter and then return a decision in public."
The vote to remove him must be unanimous.
Goulart said the city's charter is cut and dry with very little flexibility.
"The only options in this case would be removal or not. There's no in-between and no lesser action they can take in the matter," Goulart said. "We'll have to craft the precise language, Mr. Sharrock would have to be served, and then the hearing would take place no less than ten days from the day he was served."
Like Monday's vote, the council would have to vote unanimously following the public hearing; otherwise Sharrock would remain in office.
"That provision in the city's charter doesn't offer a lot of leeway for this situation," Goulart said. "It's removal, or not, at that point."
Goulart said Sharrock has agreed, in light of the allegations, to stay away from the police department for now.