#childpredator | Tulare official resigns after arrest for soliciting sex with a minor

Sigala said he would have removed Harrell immediately for “allegedly putting our children at risk” but does not have the authority under the city’s charter which requires a vote of the city council to remove a sitting commissioner. Under Section 52 of the city charter titled “Board of Public Utilities”, any commissioner of the board “may be removed by the Mayor, subject to the approval of the Council by a majority vote.” Jones said allowing Harrell to resign instead of calling for a vote at the Oct. 7 board meeting was unacceptable.

“Our Charter is pretty clear,” Jones said in an email. “It does not address how to request a resignation.”

Harrell did not address his arrest directly in the resignation letter only saying that “under the current circumstances and the controversy which exists as related to me,” that he did not wish to put his fellow board members and the Public Works Department in a position where they were unable to perform their jobs due to “unwarranted distractions.”

“For these reasons, I reluctantly must step away from the City of Tulare’s Board of Public Utilities and as its current Chairman,” he wrote. “It is important in this regard for me to express to the great men and women of the Public Works Department that you will always have my support, and I will continue to admire all of the incredible work which you do for the citizens of Tulare. Through your efforts, you are truly setting up the City of Tulare for great things presently, as well as in the future, and I am confident that you shall continue to do so.”

Harrell spent most of the letter calling out “certain politicians” and “their supporters” who were capitalizing on his arrest for political gain. “It is a disgrace that these individuals would utilize this situation as political fodder, and intentionally direct that at opponents of theirs who have no personal involvement in the situation,” he wrote in the letter.

He was referring to Carlton Jones, who is running against his father, Steve Harrell for the District 3 seat on the Tulare City Council. Jones took his personal Facebook account on Oct. 7 to insinuate his opponent, who was in law enforcement for 30 years including time with the Tulare Police Department, was corrupt for not denouncing his son’s actions and for his endorsement from the police department.

“This was not a blind accusation, this was a 2 month long sting operation,” Jones posted on his Twitter account. “Like How to catch a Predator. Chris Harrell’s dad Steve Harrell is Sigala’s buddy. He’s an Ex-Tulare cop, endorsed by Tulare’s police chief and Tulare’s ex-police chief. The one who was busted driving drunk in Tulare. Thats what corruption looks like. #SaveOurChildren #PedophileHarrell #TulareUnited. Steve Harrell says ‘we don’t know the facts’. And that there is another side to this story. No Steve Harrell. Tulare County Sheriff Department got it right.”

Steve Harrell said he had not personally read Jones’ post but had been made aware of it by people he knew. Steve made statements in the press that he supported his son and will always support his son but that any criminal charges against him would be settled by the courts.

“In 30 years of law enforcement I never judged anyone. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Steve said. “I am here for my son and I will be there for him in any way that I can.”

The elder Harrell did confirm he, his wife and son have all resigned from positions at their church, the United Methodist Church of Tulare, where Steve said he has attended church for several decades.

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