Jacksonville, NC - There are more twists into the recent firing of Jacksonville city manager Kristoff Bauer. A questionable text message to Bauer has surfaced from one of those council members who voted to oust him.
The message says "So, when are you going to try Levitra on me?" Levitra is a male performance enhancing pill, similar to Viagra.
It was sent to Bauer's cell phone on February 6th, from council member Reva Sullivan's cell phone. On Friday, WITN obtained an e-mail Bauer sent to the mayor and council member Michael Lazzara with the text message in it, he is calling the text message completely inappropriate.
Sullivan was one of four members of city council who voted in favor of firing Bauer earlier this month.
Sullivan contacted WITN News on Friday, even before we had obtained the text message, saying it was not from her. The council member says her cell phone was taken and someone sent out the same text message to 25 people. "My phone was left sitting in my purse in a booth with some friends, someone lifted my phone out of my purse," Sullivan told us.
Sullivan says the next morning, when she realized what happened, she texted those people to apologize. She said Bauer texted her back to say "no problem, sounds like high school to me".
But the former city manager says that apology and follow-up response never happened. He claims after getting repeated late night phone calls to his city cell phone from Sullivan in January and then the text message, he confronted Sullivan and told her it had to stop. Sullivan told us her phone accidentally dialed Bauer's cell phone.
Sullivan told WITN News that she is in the process of asking US Cellular for her phone records to prove the message went out to 25 people that night...and plans to have some of those people sign affidavits that they too got the same message.
Sullivan defended herself by telling us, the former city manager is "leading us down a path", and that's the type of character we are dealing with. "Sexual harassment is no joke, and for someone to hold it until after they get fired it makes you wonder why it was held and not dealt with in February when it happened....well, because he knew it wasn't me," Sullivan told us.
When contacted today, Mayor Sammy Phillips said if it is a true message from Sullivan then it is highly inappropriate. "This could be construed as sexual harassment, my concern is that any single action from council member or employee, that they would take outside of the scope of their authority, that would bring liability on the city. That is my number one concern."
Former city councilman Horace Mann, who also was the city's former planning director, says it's shameful and he's shocked. "If the reason she voted to fire him is because he wouldn't engage in activities as the text message pointed out, if that's true I'm further shocked and greatly disappointed."
WITN on Monday obtained copies of the former city manager's cell phone records after an open records quest. There is no indication of any late-night calls on the records we received. But Bauer explained all of those calls went unanswered, and therefore would not show up on the bill.
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