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South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Embattled Fruitland Park City Manager Ralph Bowers admits to affair with city employee in criminal probe
City manager Ralph Bowers admitted to having an affair with a city employee, paying her money, medical bills and buying her a boat, according to an investigation from the Lake County Sherifrs Office
By Erica Rodriguez, Orlando Sentinel 4:38PM EST, December 28, 2012 Embattled Fruitland Park City Manager Ralph Bowers admitted to having an affair with a city employee and paying her money and some medical bills, according to a Lake County sheriffs investigative report. The sexual-battery investigation was launched last month after a city employee said she had been forced to have a sexual relationship with 73-year-old Bowers or be fired. The woman told investigators that over the last two years Bowers at times he forced her to perform sexual acts, but also admitted to accepting money following several sexual encounters. She said Bowers repeatedly told her "I'm the man" and "I can have you fired," and that he would call her into his office to touch her inappropriately according to the report obtained Friday by the Orlando Sentinel. The woman has also threatened a lawsuit against the city for sexual harassment and negligence. Bowers' attorney Chris Largey said the woman's allegations are "baseless" and that she is out for financial gain but did not specifically address why Bowers admitted to paying her money and medical bills and giving her a boat. Bowers declined to comment. The State Attorney's Office is reviewing the results of the criminal investigation and a decision about whether to pursue criminal charges is expected next week. The findings are the latest in a series of controversies that have surrounded Bowers and city leaders recently. Police Chief Terry Isaacs was reprimanded last month after staging a street protest against a city commissioner he believed had publicly released the woman's name. Bowers, who was hired in 2006, has been on paid administrative leave since Nov. 8, and agreed to resign if he received severance and paid leave time. This month, city commissioners instead voted unanimously to begin the process of firing Bowers because "probable cause may exist" that he
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committed a morally shameful act, violated the city/county management code of ethics and related reasons. A public hearing must be held by Jan. 18.
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