Fraser mayor, city councilman face sexual harassment allegations

Allegations made by multiple employees

FRASER, Mich. - Sexual harassment allegations against the mayor and a city councilman in Fraser sparked fireworks Monday at a special meeting behind closed doors.

The allegations came from multiple employees, according to internal communications obtained by Local 4. The meeting was held to review an investigatory report on the issue.

Mayor Joe Nichols and two City Council members voted Monday against retaining outside legal counsel to review the sexual harassment claims, but they were overruled by the rest of the council members.

"The problem is you two are disgusting and embarrassing human beings," Anna Cameron said.

Frustrations and anger boiled over.

"Enough of the unprofessional behavior," Susan Wheeland said.

The meeting was held to address the allegations against Nichols and Councilman Matt Hemelberg. In letters obtained through FOIA, both men were made award on May 17 that sexual harassment allegations had been made by multiple employees.

An active internal investigation is ongoing, and both men were invited to meet with the outside counsel that was hired to deal with the issue. The counsel will hear the evidence and give a response.

"I don't know who is doing what to who, but whatever it is, it's not right," a resident said.

"The city has been destroyed by these two individuals, and we're fighting back," Cameron said.

Hemelberg had sent an email to the city's in-house legal counsel and city manager on May 19 asking for all communication and documentation "regarding the alleged harassment complaint filed against me and the mayor." He also questioned what authority the city manager had to start the investigation.

"It seems that certain people on council knew even before the accused, so to me it's still innocent until proven guilty," Gil Harris said.

Hemelberg and Nichols voted against paying the outside counsel brought in to conduct the investigation.

"It's unfortunate, but it sounds like it's been a long time coming," Thomas Laduke said.

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