MURRIETA (CBSLA.com) — Murrieta Mayor Harry Ramos addressed allegations of sexual harassment at a news conference Friday, accusations he called “completely false.”
Kathleen Smith, a mother of three from Ramona in San Diego County, publicly accused Ramos of groping her, pursuing her sexually and trying to force himself on her during a party in January. The accusations were made during an announcement that she had filed a claim against the city seeking unspecified damages for Ramos’ alleged misdeeds while carrying out his official duties.
“I felt incredibly used and stained,” Smith said. “I was absolutely stunned and had no idea what to do.”
Smith, who worked for a local radio station, said the abuse happened at a Chamber of Commerce mixer. She said the mayor accosted her at the event and in the parking lot.
Reached at his home Thursday, Ramos denied the claim, calling it “100 percent not true.”
On Friday, he remained steadfast.
“I never ever sexually assaulted Ms. Smith,” said Ramos, “There’s no question this is a blatant and disgusting attack on my character and family.”
Ramos says he has evidence against Smith but chose not to share it with CBS2’s Tom Wait.
“I refuse to retaliate with the same vile disregard of how public attacks hurt families,” he said.
Ramos – who is married with children – also defended himself Friday against a separate probe launched by the city – alleging Ramos had improper conduct with city staff and constituents. Ramos says accusations made by some citizens are racially motivated.
“The number one reason they quoted for me to be removed was – ‘He’s Mexican,” Ramos says.
The mayor did not take any questions at his news conference Friday but at the end he did say if the citizens don’t believe him or if they don’t think he’s doing a good job, they should hold a recall.