Vernon interim city clerk files sexual harassment complaint against councilman

Vernon Interim City Clerk Michelle Cross filed a formal complaint against a council member when Vernon City Council met in regular session Feb. 22.

Cross presented the council with the letter of complaint during Tuesday’s meeting, stating she had been considering it “for a while.” 

“I have prayed and prayed about this for a while,” she told council members.. “I am just going to say what the thing is and hand you all this. I am filing a formal complaint against Chad Jackson for sexual harassment.

The letter cites an incident Cross says happened on Oct, 18, 2021.

“Mr. Jackson approached me and hugged me,” Cross stated in the complaint. “This action has caused me undue stress and fear. This was an unwelcomed hug, and I cringe still when I think about it. I have not come forward before now due to fear of retaliation from Mr. Jackson.”

Cross went on to state that there were witnesses to the incident, and she felt if she remained silent that Jackson “would feel he had power” over her and may “do it again.”

Neither Jackson nor the rest of the council commented on the complaint; however, City Attorney Michelle Jordan is expected to investigate the claim and advise the council on the matter. 

In other business, the council voted to pay accountant Lee Steverson $100 per hour to handle the city’s payroll in wake of the firing of former City Clerk Tracy Walker until a new city clerk is hired. Council voted to advertise the position and to name Cross interim clerk. The council also agreed to change Cross’ hourly pay to $18 – about a $5 an hour increase – while she performs both her duties and those of city clerk.

A motion to pay Walker for 160 hours of vacation pay –  a total of about $2,880 – was tabled for a future meeting. While the consensus among council members is that Walker is entitled to the money, they stated they wanted to verify her pay rate and number of vacation hours before making a final decision. 

Vernon City Council will meet again in workshop at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 7.