Bristol City Council censures mayor over sexual harassment alleg - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Bristol City Council censures mayor over sexual harassment allegations

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Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne during a previous interview with Channel 3 (WFSB) Bristol Mayor Ken Cockayne during a previous interview with Channel 3 (WFSB)
BRISTOL, CT (WFSB) -

Bristol's mayor is under scrutiny.

After a special closed-door meeting, the City Council imposed the highest punishment it can on the mayor for the second time in two terms.

On Monday night, the Bristol City Council censured Mayor Ken Cockayne for allegations of sexual harassment, dishonesty, and retaliatory acts based on perceived political disloyalty.

A censure is an effort by the city council to express their displeasure with the mayor.

Five council members, including two Republicans that are on the same republican party ticket this fall, voted to censure Mayor Cockayne.

The sixth member, Jodi Zils-Gagne, said she recused herself because she is involved with the allegations.

Gagne has had a long-running dispute with the mayor who is also her first cousin.

The city had an attorney investigate and produce a report on the allegations against the mayor.

That report is expected to be made public on Thursday.

The mayor said he hasn't seen the report, but a statement over the phone saying, "it's unfortunate that it has come to this, although it is campaign season and the timing is very suspect."

Central Connecticut State University Political Science Associate Professor Jerold Duquette breaks down what it all means, saying “in this case, because of the town charter, it's really just a symbolic thing. They don't actually have the power in the charter to formally to punish the mayor for misconduct."

This isn't the first time the mayor has been censured by the city council for similar allegations.

In 2016, the council concluded that Cockayne had retaliated against an employee in the city attorney's office named Noelle Bates.  

Court papers date allegations back to 2011 where Bates claimed the mayor had sexually harassed her on numerous occasions.

The paperwork, which is now part of a federal lawsuit, says in 2012 Cockayne stated in front of Bates and another employee “I can sexually harass you and there is nothing you can do about it, because I am an elected official and not a city employee."

"The mayor is elected on his own even though he heads the city council he has a separate elected office,” Duquette said.

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