City manager issues led to heated Fruitland Park commission meeting

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FRUITLAND PARK, Fla. - WFTV has learned that concerns over Fruitland Park City Manager Ralph Bowers came up during a heated city commission meeting months ago.

Bowers is under investigation after allegations of sexual battery.

The Fruitland Park police chief said that after receiving a complaint from a city employee he asked the Lake County Sheriff's Department. to investigate.

WFTV has learned that indications of a problem with Bowers came up with city commissioners several months ago.

It was June 14, during a Fruitland Park City Commission meeting, when Commissioner Jim Richardson said he that he received complaints that Bowers made sexual advances toward other women.

"They said the city manager also squeezed her on the bottom, so that is a really big concern, a liability for the city," Richardson said at the meeting. "This person called me and told me he was having an affair."

Bowers is on paid leave after a woman filed a complaint Thursday, accusing him of sexual battery.

Other commissioners questioned the new allegations brought up during that heated June meeting.

"I have not received one call, not one call. Why is it that all of the calls gravitate to one commissioner? I don't understand that," said City Commissioner Albert Goldberg during the June meeting.

"I can answer that question," said Richardson.

"Please do, because you accused us of being crooked," said Goldberg.

Richardson also raised questions about whether anyone knew that Bowers had been fired from his job as city manager of Jasper, Fla. for a list of issues, including two complaints of sexual harassment.

"There's documented sexual harassment claims from the city of Jasper. They were in the resolution to terminate him," Richardson said in the meeting.

Commissioner Sharon Kelly was on the commission when Bowers was hired four years ago.

"At the time when he was hired did you ask about a background check, do you know if one was done?" WFTV reporter Daralene Jones asked Kelly.

"I don't think there was one done," said Kelly.

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