West Linn city councilman accused of sexual harassment - KPTV - FOX 12

West Linn city councilman accused of sexual harassment

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WEST LINN, OR (KPTV) -

A member of the West Linn City Council is under fire, accused of sexually harassing a community volunteer. The accusations came to light Monday night during a City Council meeting when Emily Smith came forward with a public comment.

“I’m here today to call upon this council to take action to prevent sexual harassment and abuse of power by elected officials,” Smith said.

Smith said she’s been volunteering on the Committee for Citizen Involvement for one year – all the while, being sexually harassed.   

“During that time, I have deflected repeated and unwanted sexual advances. I’ve tried to find a safe way to come forward, but the lack of policy created no guarantee that I could remain anonymous. I believe I have been sexually harassed by Councilor Bob Martin," she said. 

Martin has been on the City Council since 2015 and a part of West Linn leadership for several years prior. He is married with children and grandchildren. FOX 12 spoke to Martin over the phone Friday. He said there is a lot he wants to say, but he can’t right now and referred us to the city attorney.

A city spokeswoman released this statement: “The City of West Linn is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment and takes all sexual harassment complaints seriously.”

Smith said her complaints fell on deaf ears, mostly because there’s no precedent for elected officials.

“I’ve been told elected officials receive no training on prevention, abide by no code of conduct and cannot be removed from position without a recall effort by voters who elected them,” Smith proclaimed during the meeting. “This has got to change.”

City leaders said change is already happening. The city's statement went on to say, “A code of conduct for elected officials and volunteers is expected to be developed by the West Linn City Council. The policy will set clear standards for conduct, a process for reporting harassment claims and ramifications for violating the policy.”

FOX 12 was not able to reach Smith for a comment, but that policy appears to be what she wants.

“When this process started, the last thing I wanted was to be in the public spotlight,” Smith said. “But now I believe the community deserves to know the truth about their elected officials and the lack of accountability for serious misconduct.”

West Linn city officials said they are currently searching for an independent investigator to examine the allegations.

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