Pekin City Council member Lloyd Orrick formally censured for sexual harassment
Pekin City Council member Lloyd Orrick has been formally censured and stripped of his mayor pro tem title after another council member accused him of misconduct.
The council voted 5 to 2 during a special meeting on Wednesday to penalize Orrick after the city's ethics commission found his remarks and actions against council member Karen Hohimer constituted sexual harassment.
Hohimer filed a complaint with the commission on Nov. 12, citing a number of incidents with Orrick, who was caught on a hot mic at the Oct. 13 council meeting telling Hohimer "here comes your boyfriend" as a male citizen approached her in the council chambers.
Hohimer alleged it was the culminating incident in a pattern going back several months. She said that included Orrick asking her in July if "her tan went all the way down," a comment corroborated by council member John Abel. Orrick was also caught on video at the Sept. 27 council meeting reaching over, grabbing Hohimer's cellphone, and scrolling through her photos and videos. He also reportedly made multiple comments about liking her dresses.
After reviewing the allegations, the Ethics Commission recommended the council censure Orrick, remove his mayor pro tem title, and levy a $500 fine. The council voted to impose those measures Wednesday, with Orrick and council member Rick Hilst voting "no."
Orrick, who remains a member of the council, read a prepared apology at Wednesday's meeting.
"I never intentionally meant to embarrass or make anyone feel disrespected," he said. "I accept responsibility for playing a part in causing this situation in the hope of putting this issue behind us, and we can all move forward."
Hohimer accepted that public apology, but she chastised Orrick for his actions.
"Whether you intentionally or unintentionally said the things that you said to me, you don't know my history. You don't know my past. The things that you said to me hurt me deeply," Hohimer said.
The council voted on a revised censure resolution that removed several provisions in the original version, including requiring Orrick to attend sexual harassment training at his own expense and recommending he attend counseling.
Mayor Mark Luft said attempts were made to resolve the issues before it headed to a formal censure vote before the council, but ultimately, this is how it played out. He said the council will need some time to heal, but he thinks things will get better.
"I feel very confident that the parties involved have come to a resolution. They have done the right thing and come to that so that we can move forward for the community and for the council and for the families involved," Luft said.