“Sexual harassment is always wrong, but often it is not a criminal matter,” she said. “Here, however, Mark Bonilla tried to use his public office to shield himself from accountability, and that is why he was arrested.”
A day after the arrest, Murray and other elected officials called on him to resign. Murray was joined by five other town board members, the receiver of taxes and the town attorney at a Saturday-morning press conference at Town Hall.
“Protecting our staff from a hostile work environment is a responsibility that I and all my colleagues take very seriously,” Murray said. “I will ensure that employees in the clerk’s office have a work environment that is safe and free of intimidation and inappropriate behavior.”
Murray, who several times cited “credible” allegations against Bonilla, said that a letter was also being hand-delivered to him asking for his resignation. She added that his alleged conduct has no place in the town, and that he has violated the public’s trust.
DiLuzio said that Bonilla has no intention of resigning, and he believes his client will be vindicated.
Regardless of the outcome of the criminal charges, Murray said, Bonilla should step down based on the sexual harassment allegations. “I don’t believe that you have to be convicted of a crime to be guilty of inappropriate behavior in a professional government setting,” she said. “No matter what happens on the criminal complaint, we believe that there are credible allegations that have been made about sexual harassment. That in my book is enough that he should resign.”
Ra said that any town official would automatically be removed from office if convicted of a felony. The charges Bonilla faces, however, are misdemeanors. Ra said that his office was researching the town board’s powers to remove the town clerk, who is an independently elected official.
Murray said she hopes it won’t come to that, and that Bonilla will step down. If he does leave office, the town board would appoint a successor, who would then be up for election in November 2013.