Legal battle not over after Fraser mayor, acting mayor ousted for sexual harassment

- Now that Fraser's Mayor and Acting Mayor are out of the job, remaining city leaders are getting ready to step in, meeting to decide who exactly is in charge.

"It's a very complicated situation," said Michael Carnagie, Mayor Pro Tem, Fraser. "Obviously this has never happened in the City of Fraser, maybe even the county."

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Carnagie is stepping into the mayoral role, deciding this week with other leaders who will fill two other newly vacant city council seats until the election in November.

"With the election coming up it makes everything a little more complicated but we are going to take the best path forward," he said.

Monday night City Council meeting was a Tribunal hearing, where it voted to fire Mayor Joe Nichols and city council member/Acting Mayor Matt Hemelberg after allegations that they made crude and sexual comments to female employees.

"He started to describe that animal that walks through the sand that has a toe of a certain shape, I said camel toe? He said yes," witness Leah Brown said. "With these conversations, I felt hot all over. Words don't come out. I was uncomfortable."

Some of the alleged victims also say there were often inappropriate hugs and shoulder rubbing.  Both ousted officials spoke to FOX 2 after the verdict.

"It was a kangaroo court," said Fraser Mayor Joe Nichols. "The reality is in there that we didn't get due process. The judge noted a couple times, any other times the objections would've been sustained."

"It's a bias, you have a plaintiff who hires a lawyer which that lawyer hires a judge," Hemelberg said. "You can't get a fair trial."

"You wouldn't let these people be ice cream men in your neighborhood, why would you want them handling any important decisions in an elected capacity," said Thomas LaDuke, who filed a petition to recall the mayor.

Hemelberg is currently on the ballot to re-run for his seat, but it is still unclear if that will be allowed. 

"We're going to continue with the recall even though they were removed, because we believe that the legal process," he said. "You don't know what's going to happen with that. And also we want to have a vote of the people so we can make sure this man is removed from office."

LaDuke is planning to collect more signatures at city hall Friday evening at 5.

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