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‘Are you this silent with the victims?’ -Florence residents demand transparency in city harassment case

FLORENCE, Colo. (KRDO) -- A commitment of transparency came from the Florence City Council on Tuesday regarding its saga with its fired manager, who is accused of repeatedly coercing his female employees for sex at city hall.

Mike Patterson is facing felony stalking and an unlawful sexual contact charge related to his alleged behavior with his employees at city hall.

The council agreed to finally address the termination and employment of Mike Patterson by releasing a statement by Friday afternoon following months of silence and mounting pressure from residents and 13 Investigates.

"It's been 140 days since the former city manager's termination on august the 31st of 2021. This is what I have heard at coffee chats from some of you and some of your staff. No comment. We need to move forward. We can't change the past," Florence resident Tim Jordan said during public comment.

Over the last few months, 13 Investigates has spoken with several frustrated Florence residents who can't seem to get answers about the now-fired city manager.

"If you're being silent -- this silent with us the public -- are you this silent with the victims? Staying silent reads that it's okay and acceptable. What you refuse to say has just as much of an impact than what you do say. How and when will the city of Florence move forward with the assurances that this won't happen again -- or will the city of Florence simply hit the repeat button and stay on silence?" Jordan asked.

"I think our silence is doing more harm than good," Councilman Melissa Hardy said.

Hardy explained the council's silence on the city manager allegations before putting forward a motion for the council to release a statement about Patterson's termination and employment.

"We aren't saying no comment to protect any political careers or protect any bad actors that might have been in our city. We are doing it because we are called to be fiduciary's for the city," Hardy explained.

In August, Patterson was quietly fired by the council and then arrested in November.

Records show a lawsuit filed by a former clerk was settled in 2019, accusing Patterson of frequent sexual harassment.

"I think that it is our responsibility that the citizens hear from us what's happening in their city and not from a news organization even though I believe in a free press," Hardy said.

The council held three executive sessions on Tuesday night, including two about personnel issues. The elected officials had no comment on what they discussed.

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Chelsea Brentzel

Chelsea is the Assistant News Director for KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about Chelsea here.


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