Murrieta's mayor is the focus of a civil claim filed Wednesday against the city and himself where a woman accuses him of allegedly molesting her in public at a work function earlier this year.
In a tort claim filed by the victim's attorney, Mayor Harry Ramos, 38, is accused of sexually assaulting an employee of a local radio station during a Chamber of Commerce mixer on Jan. 22 at the Murrieta Spectrum Mall.
Ramos allegedly "repeated verbal advances, kissing," grabbing and squeezing Kathleen Smith's buttocks and inner thighs without her consent while "acting in the course and scope of his position."
"He did proceed to go up by backside and insisted he walk me out to my car afterward," said Smith, who lives in San Diego County. "He then proceeded to lean over and kiss me and I mean very forcefully kiss me and put his hand up my skirt and I just recall being frozen like a deer in the headlights and there was nothing I could do."
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According to the claim, she chose to stay quiet about the alleged assault until an investigator hired by the city to probe the mayor informed her the alleged molestation was witnessed by people who were interviewed as part of an on-going investigation. Three witnesses were listed in the claim.
During a council meeting on June 16, several speakers accused Ramos of violating the council's code of conduct. With Ramos' agreement, an investigation was launched into the accusations and several people were interviewed, including the alleged witnesses. The investigator then contacted Smith.
The claim has been referred to the city's joint power agency and Murrieta has 45 days to take action by either accepting it, rejecting it or come up with a compromise, according to Jeff Morris, the city's attorney.
Smith said the shame the alleged molestation caused her to quit her job.
She is seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
Ramos strongly denies the allegations saying the "accusations are ridiculous attacks against his character and part of a campaign by his political enemies to get him removed as mayor."
According to Morris, Ramos still holds his position as Murrieta's mayor.
Ramos was elected to the Murrieta City Council in 2012. His current position is part of a rotation the city practices, where each member serves as mayor for one year. Ramos replaced Alan Long, who stepped down in October 2014 after allegedly causing a crash that injured four teen cheerleaders while driving under the influence.
Ramos has been married to his wife for 10 years, they have three children, according to his bio.
Before serving on the council, he joined the United States Marine Corps in 2003 as an Intelligence Analyst and was honorably discharged in November 2012.