Sex video fallout continues after top page resigns | Policy


CLAYTON — The fallout following the abrupt resignation last week of county executive chief of staff Sam Page continued on Tuesday, with a county council member accusing anonymous “politicians” of sharing sex videos “like popcorn in a movie theater” and another calling for legislation to ban county employees from engaging in sexual acts on county property.

Cal Harris quit his $156,000-a-year job after less than six months amid a law enforcement investigation into a video he recorded while engaging in a sex act with a woman in a county office.

The video was sent anonymously to two elected Republicans and handed over to law enforcement two weeks ago.

On Tuesday, Councilman Tim Fitch, a Republican who represents the 3rd District, called for legislation explicitly penalizing county employees for engaging in acts of “any sexual nature” on county buildings, in county vehicles. county or on county property.

“It is unfortunate that we have to address such issues under the current leadership of the County,” Fitch, a longtime Page critic, said in a tweet. Fitch said he would introduce the bill next week when the council returns from a July recess. He also called for a council hearing to investigate the incident.

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Meanwhile, Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, a Democrat who represents the 5th District, condemned the act in a tweet that also criticized anonymous politicians “who allegedly shared these tapes like popcorn in a movie theater.” .

“About these tapes: 1) don’t bring your sex life into the office; 2) always have consent – and that includes politicians who would have shared these tapes like popcorn in a movie theater before the proper authorities were contacted. SMH. »

In an interview, Clancy, an ally of Page, said she was referring to Rep. Shamed Dogan, a Ballwin Republican and county executive candidate, who received the video on June 22 and sent it this that day to Councilman Mark Harder, a Republican representing West County. , who handed him over to the police the following day.

It wasn’t the first statement that referenced Republicans sending the video to each other. Page spokesperson Doug Moore released a statement last week that “everyone is anxiously waiting for Missouri Highway Patrol to find out how Councilman Harder got the video and who he did it with. shared”, and that the video had been “passed from hand to hand”. among politicians.

And a campaign email from Page on Monday told readers that Harris “tendered his resignation the same day local politicians were revealed to have circulated a sex video of Harris apparently taken at a government office in county”.

Dogan’s campaign criticized the email in a tweet as “a ridiculously embarrassing twist.”

He said on Tuesday that the statements criticizing him and Harder were meant to distract.

“It’s just absurd that they’re focusing here on who gave the tape to law enforcement, instead of what the conduct is there and when did (Page) know about it? ” he said.

The video was sent to Dogan’s public email on June 22 from an anonymous account, “stlcountyconcernedcitizen”, which used an encryption service to further obscure their identity. Dogan said he spoke to police about the video on June 23.

Dogan said he was traveling outside of Missouri when he received the video and reported it to Harder because he is his board representative and chairs the board’s ethics committee, a group of four people to investigate misconduct issues.

Dogan’s office released the anonymous email with the sex video to Sunshine’s requests from news media, including the Post-Dispatch.

Dogan said he “made a mistake sending it quickly” because “the spirit and the letter of the Sunshine Law is, you know, when you have documents, which are government documents, those- these should be published, if requested.”

Harder, in a statement released last week hours after Harris resigned, said he received the video on June 22 anonymously and met with law enforcement officers on June 23, but declined. to comment further.

In an interview Tuesday, Harder said he was contacted by investigators a second time on the morning of June 29 and released his statement shortly after amid reports of Harris’ resignation.

Harder said the “anonymous” person was Dogan, who asked not to be identified to avoid interfering with an investigation.

Harris had made no mention of an inquest in his resignation, but instead cited “the recent death of a close relative and the family’s upcoming move.” The county issued no statement at the time.

“I wanted people to know what was going on,” Harder said Tuesday. “On Wednesday night, … you were calling me, so I decided to release a statement.”

Fitch said Harder told him about the video and advised Harder to report it to law enforcement.

Harder said he consulted with Fitch because he was a former county police chief. Fitch suggested he report it to Clayton police, who typically investigate incidents within city limits, including county government buildings, Harder said.

Harder and Dogan said they did not share the video with anyone else.

Clancy claimed there was “no excuse” for Dogan not to immediately report the video to the police.

“It wouldn’t have taken two passes for someone to finally say it has to go to the police,” she said. “It bothers me that some of my colleagues are using this as political fodder.”

An attorney for the woman Harris recorded said she did not consent to the recording or its broadcast.

A lawyer for Harris claimed the woman knew she was being filmed and that Harris did not release the recording. The attorney did not return a request for comment on Tuesday.

The Post-Dispatch does not identify victims in cases where a sex crime is alleged. The woman is not a St. Louis County employee.

If the woman hasn’t consented to the recording being shared with third parties, it could be a violation of a state law that prohibits the “non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images.”

The crime is a Class D felony and punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Moore said in a statement late Tuesday that the executive would seek a new chief of staff to replace Harris, but not immediately.

Asked about Fitch’s bill, Moore said the executive would “look forward to seeing what kind of legislation comes out of the Council’s discussions.”

“Highway Patrol is investigating whether any crimes have occurred,” Moore said. “I guess that includes how the tape became public, who had it, what they did with it, when they got it. It would be inappropriate to comment beyond that on an ongoing investigation. .”

Page was scheduled to speak Wednesday morning at a weekly press conference, the first since Harris’ abrupt resignation last week.


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