A South Lyon councilman has been censured for what was found to be inappropriate behavior, regarding sexually-charged comments he made about a fellow council member.

The city’s Board of Ethics recently produced a report of their findings and made a recommendation that City Council find Councilman Carl Richards in violation of the ethics ordinance. Richards had previously admitted to making statements while at a local business about Councilwoman Mary Parisien’s body and sexuality, in addition to bragging about peeping into the windows of her home. His admittance led a judge to grant Parisien a PPO. At a council meeting Monday, Councilman Glenn Kivell introduced a resolution to censure, or formally express severe disapproval, in Richards’ conduct.

Councilman Stephen Kennedy spoke directly to Richards, stating that he agreed with the Board of Ethics’ findings that called the violation “egregious.” Kennedy went on to discuss how Richards’ actions have affected the city, citing the incident involving Parisien and a previous incident in which Richards asked inappropriate questions of a woman running for council. Kennedy stated, “Your behavior both in words and actions have brought disgrace to this council and have tarnished the reputation of this city and its residents…to date, it has cost the city well over $12,000 to address the consequences of your actions…for someone who claims to want to help the city, your actions have certainly not done that.”

Council voted unanimously to censure Richards, with Parisien recusing herself from the vote and Richards not allowed to due to a conflict of interest. However before the vote took place, Councilwoman Maggie Kurtzweil said that while she does not approve of Richards’ behavior, she also thinks Parisien lacks credibility. Kurtzweil accused Parisien of making false statements to police about the incident involving Richards, saying that both Parisien and Richards should be held accountable for their actions. Kurtzweil later told Parisien that the community can see through her lies and that she does not have many supporters. Speaking to Parisien Kurtzweil said, “With respect to you being strong, I’d just like to remind you that you are not a sexual assault victim, you have not been sexually abused by Carl Richards, you are the recipient of trash talk. That is what happened…at some point you’ve got to stop and you’ve got to grow up and accept the fact that there are some people out there in this community that don’t like you. And if you think what Carl Richards said about you is bad, you should hear what’s being said about you now.”

Parisien refuted the claims about making false statements, adding that the issue council should solely be focused on is the recommendation and censuring Richards. Parisien responded to Kurtzweil saying, “If I lied, do you think the Board of Ethics, three very intelligent individuals who poured over these documents for over a month or two, I would have been able to hoodwink them?...You need to look past your biases and you need to look at the behavior for what it is. Don’t look at it as Mary Parisien, look at it as any human being. Would it be okay to walk into a local business and call them a topless dancer at a gay bar? …is that okay for a councilmember to say? No, it’s not, it’s inappropriate and you would be just as livid as I am now…if it were you, if it were anyone else, I would defend you.”

Richards later addressed council to say that while he has admitted to his actions, he has also overlooked misquotations, misrepresentation and outright lies about him surrounding the issue. He stated that council has a responsibility to the community to be “thick-skinned”, to face the public and to keep an open mind amongst themselves. Richards stated, “Who would have ever known or dreamed in their wildest dreams that this would’ve come to this? And I’m sorry, I apologize to the whole council that they’ve been put through this mess and that the public has had to endure this. Certainly not my intention at any time. I accept the censure, I was wrong…I’m glad that this is over now and I hope that we can all move on with a fair and open mind.”

Parisien later reminded Richards that while he wants to move on, that the issue is not over as there is still a PPO against him that she will ensure is upheld.(DK)