Ramos Denies Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

In a press conference on Friday, Murrieta Mayor Harry Ramos denied allegations of sexual harassment. Murrieta 24/7 photos by Kristen Spoo...

In a press conference on Friday, Murrieta Mayor Harry Ramos denied allegations of sexual harassment.
Murrieta 24/7 photos by Kristen Spoon

Murrieta Mayor Harry Ramos on Friday denied all allegations of sexual misconduct with a woman whom a day earlier filed a legal claim against him. At the same time, he claimed the charges were part of a conspiracy against him and accused some of his critics of being "racially motivated."

In a press conference in front of City Hall, Ramos told reporters he denies all accusations made against him by Kathleen Smith, who said Ramos sexually assaulted her at a Chamber of Commerce mixer in January.

"I have never in all of my life inappropriately touched a woman or forced myself onto a woman," Ramos said. "I never, ever, sexually assaulted Ms. Smith. There is no question that this is a blatant attack on my character and my family that has caused me and my family stress and pain.

"I was told she (Smith) was approached to do this simply with the intention to make her into a political pawn and to destroy me personally and politically -- simply because I refuse to go along with crony politics and support certain developers and friends within the city."

Ramos said he disagreed with the process being used in an independent investigation launched a few weeks ago regarding his alleged misconduct in several incidents. That investigation was authorized by the city council following accusations brought by several residents at a city council meeting.

Ramos accused his critics of being racially motivated, referring to an apparent comment made in a private Facebook group he said stated "The No. 1 reason we're doing this is because he's Mexican."

Faye Wons, a resident who has been critical of Ramos' performance in previous council meetings, attended Friday's press conference.

"I feel very bad for Murrieta that this has happened and I’ve prayed for his family," she said. "This has to be horrible for them. But this is not racially motivated.

"I don’t know Mr. Ramos well enough to know what his ethics in this concern are. I only know him from being at City Council meetings. I have disagreed with him on many issues and I have spoken at council to tell him what I was concerned about."

During his comments, Ramos said he believed the investigative process regarding his conduct is a weapon being used against him.

"As this process is being used, it is potentially a weapon against this council or any future councils," Ramos said. "I truly believe this is political games and posturing."

Ramos said he had information regarding other council members that he would turn over to the District Attorney's office but gave no explanation of those concerns. He declined to take questions after the press conference.

Smith said in a press conference on Thursday that Ramos made repeated sexual advances the night of Jan. 22 -- including kissing her, inserting his tongue into her mouth, grabbing and squeezing her buttocks, and reaching up her skirt and grabbing and squeezing her inner thigh, all without her consent.

Smith's attorney, Dan Gilleon (left), said the claim was filed against Ramos and the City of Murrieta. He said if the city doesn't act on the claim within 45 days, a lawsuit will be filed.

Speaking to reporters after Ramos' press conference Friday, Gilleon re-emphasized his client's position.

"It did happen, and I think it’s unfortunate he’s using the race card and the notion this is a political conspiracy," Gilleon said. "He's saying, 'It’s the race card, it’s a conspiracy,' it’s all these sorts of things.

"No, Mr. mayor, you grabbed her butt, you stuck your tongue down her throat and you stuck your hand up her skirt. That’s what happened here, and that’s what this case is about."

Here is our video report with highlights of the press conference.



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