Report: Fruitland Park city manager accused of sexual harassment before

Documents show complaints filed against Ralph Bowers at previous post

FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. - New documents released on Monday reveal the Fruitland Park city manager under investigation for sexual battery allegations was accused of sexual harassment at his last job and was fired.

Deputies confirmed on Friday that they are investigating whether a sexual battery was committed by City Manager Ralph Bowers, who has been temporarily suspended with pay pending a criminal investigation.

According to the documents, Bowers was fired as city manager in Jasper in 2004 for several reasons, including two sexual harassment claims and threatening employees.

Sources with knowledge into the investigation tell Local 6 the complain came from a female employee who said Bowers touched her inappropriately inside of city hall.

Fruitland Park City Commissioner Jim Richardson told Local 6 he warned other commissioners at a meeting in June 2011 that he had received anonymous complaints about Bowers and that it could end up in a sexual harassment lawsuit if they didn't act.

"That is my biggest concern, that the city, based on his past history of sexual harassment, that were going to end up with a claim as well," Richardson said.

Richardson said he wasn't surprised Lake County deputies are investigating Bowers.

"We wouldn't be to this point on a lot of issues, had the city commission acted," Bowers said. "When somebody tells you in an open meeting that these things are going on and you do nothing. You're just as guilty as the people who did them."

The commission had voted to suspend Bowers with pay until the investigation is complete, but Richardson wanted to fire him.

"How many things have to happen before this man will be terminated?" Richardson said.

Watch Local 6 for more on this story.

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