Fraser Mayor, councilman fired for sexual harassment claims

- For months the city of Fraser has been investigating claims of sexual harassment from its mayor and city councilman.

And on Monday night, the City Council voted to fire them both as a council meeting served as a courthouse tonight.

In a 4 to 1 vote Mayor Joe Nichols was removed from his office in Fraser on the basis of sexual harassment claims.

"It was a kangaroo court," Nichols said. "The reality in there is we didn't get due process.  The judge noted any other time, the objections would have been sustained."

Councilmember Matt Hemelberg found the same fate on the same charge in a 3 to 2 vote

"It's a bias," said Matt Hemelberg. "You got a plaintiff who hires a lawyer, in which that lawyer hires a judge. You can't get a fair trial that way."

It all happened as the council chamber became a court room for a tribunal hearing which put mayor nichols and councilmember Hemelberg on trial. Both sat at the defense table with their attorney, while an attorney from Clinton Township served as the prosecutor and a retired Macomb County judge presided.

Five witnesses testified as to whether the defendents sexually harassed employees on several occasions. One alleged victim testified that lewd comments were said to her and around her at city hall by the mayor himself.

"He began to tell me a story," said Leah Brown. "Recently he had been at an event, I believe it was a dance. He was sitting down at a table and two young women walked up to him also wearing leggings and they were not as flattering and he started to describe the animal that walks on the sand that has a toe of a certain shape. I said you mean a camel toe and he said yes."

Brown describef how the comments made her feel.

"I felt frozen with the conversation," she said. "I felt hot all over and words wouldn't come out. I was uncomfortable."

Other examples of inapporiate shoulder rubbing and hugging were brought up against the defendants.  They contend this was hear-say and would have never been allowed in a real court.

None-the-less, the council decided to remove them from office effective immediately.

Nichols and Hemelberg plan to appeal to a higher court and try to get their jobs back. 

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