Friday, September 4, 2015

After Early Openness, Mayor Adopts Policy of Wariness on Details of Lipscomb Crisis

Wharton cites ongoing “investigation” as reason not to answer, as Seattle accuser increasingly comes forth on his own.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2015 at 10:40 AM

click to enlarge Wharton  surrounded by reporters on Thrsday - JB
  • JB
  • Wharton surrounded by reporters on Thrsday

As the Robert Lipscomb crisis wears on, Mayor A C Wharton — who was reasonably forthcoming in a Wednesday-morning interview with the Flyer — has begun a new policy of responding to inquiries with a wariness that he puts forth as conforming to legal scruple.

He gave a demonstration of the policy as he was surrounded by reporters Thursday morning as he left a meeting room at the Convention Center during a break in the action of the National Conversation about Prosperity which he is hosting.

Even as reporters began to sally forth their questions, Wharton began with a dose of caution regarding the matter of how he weighed a Seattle accuser’s allegations of sexual abuse that in fairly short order led to city czar Lipscomb’s dismissal from city service.

“I will not touch on the evidence, not at all,” the Mayor said, acknowledging a legal presumption of Lipscomb’s innocence of misdeeds “until proven guilty” but saying that he had acted in accordance with “the welfare of this city,” and that, “I will do what is necessary to protect this city.”

Asked what transpired when he first confronted Lipscomb about the Seattle man’s accusations, Wharton said, “I declined to comment on it when I was asked about it before, and I’m not gong to comment on it. It’s an investigation. One’s action or reaction n cold become an issue in the courts, and I’m not going to comment on it.”

References to an ongoing “investigation” are now the Mayor’s inevitable response to most questions that probe into the heart of the matter. Elaborating, he said, “I don’t jump into criminal matters. It goes through the Police Department. The only reason I was in on the front of this one was because a call came in to me personally.”

This was a reference to the Seattle man’s telephone call to the Mayor of Thursday, August 21, that triggered his prompt dispatching of Police Director Toney Armstrong and other officers to the Washington city to hear out the accuser in person.

Both the Mayor and other city officials have talked about the emergence of at least 9 other accusers besides the Seattle man who have surfaced since the Lipscomb story broke early in the week — an echo of what happened when entertainer Bill Cosby began to be accused of raping various women.

The difference is that all of Cosby’s accusers went on the record and have been promptly identified as to their names and the circumstances of their accusations. In the Lipscomb case there have been no details at all as to who the accusers are, where they are located, and what they say happened to them or when.

Asked for such details on Thursday, the Mayor went to his mantra: “That gets into the investigation.”

One question Wharton dismissed with a point blank answer of sorts. Asked about allegations made by the Seattle accuser in an interview with local FOX-13 television that the city had made promises to him of “compensation,” the Mayor said, “I will say no to that.

He said that all that had been proffered to the Seattle man was available to all of “those who think they were victimized,” and that was access to the city’s Crime Victims’ Assistance Center. “And that’s it.”

Meanwhile, fragments of information about the Seattle accuser are coalescing into the portrait of a man whose probity is beginning to come under question.

For details of our own extended conversation with the accuser, “Lipscomb’s Accuser Speaks to the Flyer” go here.

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