Aurora could ban using taxpayer money for defending sexual harassment cases

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    AURORA | A resolution, if passed, may dictate that taxpayer money can’t be used to defend sexual assault allegations against some City of Aurora employees and elected officials.

    City councilman Charlie Richardson, who proposed the resolution, said during a Thursday policy meeting that he asked the measure be drafted after noticing a dramatic uptick in reports of sexual harassment in the news back in October.

    “If it can happen in Hollywood, it can happen in Aurora,” he said.

    The resolution, if passed would dictate that “taxpayer money not be used for the indemnity of city council, executive staff of the city manager’s office, department directors and council appointees for sexual harassment.”

    Aurora City Attorney Mike Hyman told the Aurora Sentinel there has never been a sexual harassment claim against a city council member in his time with the city — close to 30 years — and sexual harassment claims involving city employees are a rarity. He did not say what rarity is in terms of actual complaints and resolutions.

    During the meeting Richardson said he would likely insert an amendment into the resolution that would “provide an escape valve.” Richardson said he wanted to narrow the resolution so that it would only apply to those employees who did not also complete a class from the city’s human resources department on sexual harassment.

    “(It would) encourage in a pretty powerful way that the executive staff and department directors all attend a class that HR would put together, which would obviously (and) hopefully sensitize the attendees to what they could and could not do,” Richardson said.

    Hyman added that the resolution is meant to be more of a preventative measure than corrective.

    The other two council members on the policy committee, Dave Gruber and Francoise Bergan, agreed to move the resolution to study session, where it will be heard by the full council.

    Correction: The resolution is slated to be amended to say employees who do not undergo sexual harassment training would not qualify for any kind of legal help via taxpayer money.