Town of Dewey Beach To Support Town Manager Legally, Delays Vot - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Town of Dewey Beach To Support Town Manager Legally, Delays Vote on Investigator's Recommendations

Posted: 09/22/2017 20:27:00 -04:00 Updated:
Dewey Beach Town Hall (Photo: WBOC) Dewey Beach Town Hall (Photo: WBOC)

DEWEY BEACH, Del. - The Town of Dewey Beach's commissioners voted unanimously to "indemnify" town manager Marc Appelbaum on Friday night-- meaning they will support his hiring of an attorney and legal fees if necessary.

"If you cant indemnify people, if you can't make sure they know they'll be covered by the town, you'd never get any decent people to run for office or be employed by the town," explains Mayor Dale Cooke. "It's not a show of support whatsoever, it's a show of support for their service to the town."

Throughout the summer, Applebaum had been accused of sexual harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behavior.  At Friday's meeting, according to the commissioners, indemnification can occur only when the town believes the person in question acted in good faith and in the best interest of the town. Rick Cross, the lawyer for multiple complainants, says that's outrageous and not legally sound. 

"Under the town's code they are not permitted to even vote on this issue if they are defendants in the litigation which they are," he says. "So I think they've opened themselves to a legal challenge as to whether this indemnification decision can withstand." 

Cross says their Chancery Court lawsuit--which had been paused during the investigation as an act of good faith--is now back on.

"Now that we saw what was happening this week, we notified the judge we want the case back on an active track," he says. "In addition, we anticipate filing a EEOC complaint for the things [Appelbaum's] been doing more recently like attempting to intimidate my clients."

Despite the indemnification, the town commissioners did not vote on the independent investigator's recommendations that Appelbaum be formally reprimanded and attend anti-harassment, discrimination and communication classes. That will now occur after the new council is sworn in Saturday.

"We decided some of us had not have enough time to read it in detail and we wanted to make sure we did that before it was discussed," Cooke says. "We thought that was only fair."

In the meeting, Cooke announced that the full report is now available to the public on the town's website.

"I want people to read the full report. Read everything," he says. "Because it sounds pretty horrible and some of it sounds bad and is bad, but if you read the whole report then make up your mind."

Cross says the report supports the most serious of claims, such as one where a woman went in to obtain a business license.

"Mr. Appelbaum essentially trapped her in his office, put his hand on her leg and asked for a sexual favor in return for a promise of future employment," Cross says. "The report couldn't be more clear that he committed the most serious acts that we alleged and so it's amazing that the town continues to bury its head. We will continue to pursue my clients rights."

The full report can be read here

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