A resident of Lantana, Florida, has accused the town’s long-serving mayor of sexual misconduct after he allegedly asked her for sex in exchange for installing speed bumps in her neighborhood.
Catherine Padilla claims the incident took place in 2015, but she didn’t have the courage to come forward against Lantana Mayor David Stewart as her husband passed away the same year and she did not feel strong enough to register an official complaint.
“I’m finally strong enough,” she told The Palm Beach Post. “My feet are on the ground now. I’m finally feeling strong enough to come forward with this.”
According to the complaint filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics, the plaintiff had asked the town to build speed bumps as a safety measure in her area. During this time, she had also developed a friendship with the mayor. However, things took an appalling turn after Stewart allegedly drove her to a motel after a lunch meeting and propositioned her – a request that she turned down immediately and refused to leave the vehicle.
“He pulled into this motel and got out of his van and I just kept motioning ‘no I'm not interested,’” Padilla recalled.
She said Stewart, who has held his office since 2000, contacted her again about a week later in August 2015. This was around the time city council was planning to vote on the budget for additional speed bumps. Given that Padilla was involved in organizing the vote, the mayor called her to say it wasn’t too late for her to change her mind.
“Said it's not too late, you can still have sex with me and I will guarantee that you get your speed humps that you want,” Padilla said.
However, she turned him down once again and the measure was approved.
After Padilla filed the complaint, some three years after the alleged harassment, the state commission notified Stewart about it in accordance with protocol – and the mayor responded by showing up at the woman’s door.
“Looking really angry and red faced, so I immediately slammed the door and locked it and shut my blinds,” said Padilla, explaining the incident.
Apparently, the local police have also described as a “suspicious incident.”
Meanwhile, Stewart had denied the allegation against him.
“These accusations are totally and completely false,” he said. “I won’t dignify them by commenting. I continue to focus on doing my best for the residents of our town and community.”
He also claimed in all his years as the mayor, he has never offered any political favors.
“In 18 years I've been mayor there is never been a quid pro quo or anything asked for or given in favor of me voting in a special or certain direction,” the mayor added.
When local news channel WPTV asked him why he showed up at Padilla's home, Stewart said: “I don't feel at this time I should comment on it until the ethics have been looked into.”
The state is currently investigating the complaint against the mayor who is running unopposed in the upcoming March 13 election.
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