In a December 25 letter to the Kitsap News Group, Bremerton City Councilor Richard Huddy responded to recent findings of alleged inappropriate conduct with teenangers, calling the allegations false and saying his public censure by the city council on December 19 constituted a “new low for Kitsap County politics.”
Huddy was formally rebuked by the council last week after an independent workplace misconduct investigator found his behavior toward one 17-year-old girl and two young women at public events and in online conversations afterward to be “overly familiar” and “inappropriate in the context of [their] ages and their minimal acquaintance with Huddy.”
In his response Huddy said the investigation, conducted by Seattle-based attorney Rebecca Dean, found no “serious misconduct” and stressed that no direct sexual jokes, innuendos, advances or requests for private meetings were made.
He said the charecterization of his behavior was “distorted,” and that the investigator “accepted convincing lies, false accusations and damaging mischaracterizations” in compiling her report.
He also mentioned what he called a “hyper-sensitive #MeToo movement,” which he said is “not what this is about” but said it would prompt him to “observe tighter boundaries” in “future interactions with people of all ages.”
Huddy’s censure has prompted some to consider what constitutes appropriate behavior by men in the public eye.
Councilor Leslie Daugs, who introduced the resolution to censure Huddy, said his actions were unbefitting of a legislator.
“We as electeds are supposed to be setting an example,” she said. “Facebook messaging at 10 o’clock in the evening – that shouldn’t be happening with youth.”
First-time senator-elect Emily Randall also weighed in, writing that she is “disgusted that so many people (mostly men) in elected office and positions of power don’t know (or don’t care) where the boundary of acceptable behavior is.”
Others have come out in support of Huddy, a representative of District 6 in west Bremerton since 2016.
“He’s a nice gentleman who is polite to everyone,” Jennifer Downey wrote in a Facebook post. “Sad to hear his politeness was twisted. Richard, don’t let these allegations about you stop hugging and complimenting people.”
In an interview with Dean, Huddy said he was “at a loss” to understand the allegations of misconduct against him. He said he often comments on peoples’ appearances at formal events, women and men, and said he views the young women as like “granddaughters.”
“I like people in general,” he said, “and I like to engage with people.”
The resolution to censure Huddy passed via a 6-1 vote, with Huddy dissenting.
In his letter, sent on Christmas morning, Huddy sharply criticized the council for its handling of the incident, which he said has damaged him and his family.
“Even if the report was accurate,” he wrote, “the Council’s action was excessive and unjustified.”
“Sabrina and I are devastated by the wrongful actions of the City of Bremerton and the Bremerton City Council. This is the worst thing that has ever happened to us.”
“My reputation is ruined,” he said.
He said that his “solace” comes from his supporters, “and the certainty that I am innocent of anything beyond mild social naivete and being blind-sided by a political enemy.”
The December 20 Kitsap News Group story detailing allegations against Huddy can be viewed here.
A full text of Huddy’s response can be viewed here.
Gabe Stutman is a reporter with the Kitsap News Group. Follow him on Twitter @kitsapgabe.