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No censure for Turner; Councilman questions silence of Walton, Foxx

Charlotte City Council voted 6-3 last night not to censure council member Warren Turner. Last week, an outside investigator found Turner likely sexually harassed a city employee. Turner denied the allegations, but didn't say much about the investigator's report. But before last night's vote, Turner elaborated on what he calls the investigation's inconsistencies and how he says the city failed him in handling the allegations. A week ago, city council listened to an investigator's findings that Turner likely sexually harassed a city employee twice. The report included accounts from three other city staffers of inappropriate behavior by him. Turner largely stayed quiet after that report was read. Last night he decided to talk. "Last week, I sat among fellow council members and city leaders and listened to a 20 page report filled with untruths, half-truths and inconsistencies," said Turner. This time Turner was accompanied by a few family friends. His two attorneys were also there as he read from a five page statement. Turner pointed out that according to the report city officials had known about the allegation that prompted the investigation for more than four months. He asked why they did not let him know about it before Mayor Anthony Foxx sent an email in March to all 11 city council members, warning them not to sexually harass staff. Turner says that email was sent while he was on a council trip to Washington DC. He said he had no idea of the allegations at that time. "However, there were quite a few who did know, yet they still allowed my accuser to be in my close company throughout that trip," said Turner. He said Foxx, City Manager Curt Walton and City Attorney Mac McCarley all knew about the allegations and did not step in to prevent him from taking the business trip with the employee who accused him. Turner went on to point out what he said were inconsistencies in the report. But he did not address the reason's the investigator gave for not finding him a credible witness. Council followed Turner's response with a half hour debate on whether to censure him. In the end, Council members Susan Burgess, Nancy Carter and Michael Barnes voted to censure him and directed him to "cease and desist" such conduct. Barnes said council needs to move on from the matter, but there needs to be some accountability. "I find it hard to believe that all these employees are lying," said Barnes. "I think this censure is not enough. I wish we could do more. Unfortunately, this is all we can do." Andy Dulin, who voted against the censure, urged council not to condemn Turner solely based on the investigation's findings. "There's been no proof. There's been no trial... There's just a jump to conclusions by this council," said Dulin Other council members said they were still deciding how they would vote as council debated. A council committee will soon begin drafting a sexual harassment policy for city council members. Turner's lawyer Eric Montgomery says at this point, Turner does not plan to sue the city.