Ocala Council grants police chief paid leave

Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham has been put on paid leave, after allegations of sexual harassment and racism.

The Ocala city council voted 4-1 to let Chief Graham go on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation against him. The vote follows three police officers' allegations last Thursday against Graham, accusing him of sexual harassment, discrimination, hostile treatment and retaliation.

The City Council on Friday accepted Graham's request to go on paid leave. They also agreed that Graham should have no contact with any member of the police force, except for Deputy Chief Rodney Smith, to only discuss police business. That didn't please the three officers' lawyer, Bobi Frank.

“I think it's very clear that this is a situation where zero contact with the Ocala Police Department for any reason, whatsoever,” Frank said.

Chief Graham's lawyer, Edward McClellan, says they're satisfied with the vote. “We have a very different view of the facts of circumstances that led up to these charges. That notwithstanding, we don't have a problem with a fair and complete investigation. Everybody wants that.”

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn stands by Chief Graham. He says he's waiting for the investigation that an outside law firm is conducting into the accusations.

“We'll let the investigation go on and look at the outcome of the investigation, and make decisions based on that when the time arrives,” Guinn says.

Residents are worried about the image this gives the city.

“Our town is too nice, too pretty, such a good place to live. And for these kinds of ugly things to keep marring us,” said one, during the public comment period.

The law firm’s investigation into the allegations against Chief Graham is expected to take several weeks.