At the December 19, 2017 City Council meeting, Donna Messinger spoke truth to power about Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh and his inappropriate behavior against her that was documented on a public video. (I will publish her statement to the City Council next week) During the same meeting, he demonstrated disturbing and bizarre behavior toward me. It was not the first time and every time Ashbaugh exhibited this aggressive behavior toward me, I told him to stop and for him to move away. The behavior continued until I finally wrote an email to the mayor and city council members complaining about it. There was no response, so in fear of continuously aggressive behavior by him toward me, I filed a police report. The email to the council follows and the police report is attached. Police Report
Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh stated to Berrien County Sheriff Lieutenant Julie Flick that he knew his actions toward me were stupid just as he admitted to 57 News in October that his verbal statements on two videos were dumb. A member of the City’s administrative team should know how to act appropriately to women while serving in a government position. The City Council should never accept stupidity as an excuse for inappropriate behavior towards women by a public servant. The Council needs to start representing the tax payers instead of protecting their employees.
The Sheriff Lieutenant told Ashbaugh not to attempt physical contact with me in any way. In response, Street Supervisor Ashbaugh told Ms Flick to tell me not to interrupt him when he is having conversations.
City Council members, truth to power, is this really necessary? Shouldn’t a member of your administration team know when interrupted in a conversation that lunging forward and trying to kiss the person is not how to handle the situation? Surely you must know this is not professional nor appropriate and that you as elected representatives must do something about it.
Although the Prosecuting Attorney’s office ruled there was not enough evidence to authorize criminal charges, I was also advised that if the aggressive behavior by Ashbaugh continues, it could be considered stalking. The City Council should take action.
December 20, 2017
Mayor O’ Donnell and Council Members Liz Ennis, Mark Kroll, Mark Robertson, Robert Spirito
New Buffalo City Hall
New Buffalo, MI 49177
Dear Mr. Mayor and Council Members,
Last evening, December 19, 2017 in the parking lot adjacent to city hall, during the city council meeting, I joined in to a conversation with Ray Kirkus, Ralph Hullet, and Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaguh. Mr. Ashbaugh became agitated with me, loudly telling me not to interrupt him although Mr, Kirkus and Mr. Hullet did not seem to mind.
Mr. Ashbaugh suddenly raised outstretched arms and quickly advanced toward me stating that he loved me and wanted a hug. I told him to get away from me and that I considered that sexual assault. This is not the first time he did this to me but this was the first time I had witnesses. The first time he did it was after a hearing at the Berrien County Courthouse on October 2, 2017. It was the same type of quick advancement with arms outstretched telling me he loved me and asking for a hug. I backed up and told him if he ever touched me I would report him for sexual assault. I consider this type of behavior extremely inappropriate for a member of the city’s administrative team.
I am debating whether to file a police report. I volunteered at a sexual assault organization and was taught that inappropriate behavior tends to escalate and since Mr. Ashbaugh continued this type of behavior even after I firmly told him in October that I felt it to be inappropriate, I fear it will continue. In an August 2016 reprimand then City Manager Anderson warned Mr. Ashbaugh about using inappropriate behavior but that warning appears to have gone unheeded.
As I said, I am not sure if I will file a police report but I knew I needed to document this incident after just listening to Donna Messinger state what Mr. Ashbaugh said about her and how he has access on Sundays to female employees’ personnel files, now without any surveillance oversight. I can only hope that these continued incidents help Ms. Messinger’s Civil Rights Suit and might help to stop Mr. Ashbaugh from continued threats and sexual advances on other women. Please take this seriously and not shrug it off as frivolous.
CC: Ray Kirkus Ralph Hullet
After I sent the email to the council members with copies to Ray Kirkus and Ralph Hullet. Ray Kirkus responded to all of us with the following email.