The request for a public hearing regarding the termination of Dr. Lee Niblock, which was made last week and scheduled to be held on Wednesday evening in Council Chambers, has been withdrawn by Mr. Niblock’s attorney, Sawyer Smith. Under the provisions of the City Charter, Niblock could request that hearing to challenge the council’s action.
Niblock was officially charged in Alachua County today on the charges of “battery,” as a result of an investigation by the Gainesville Police Department. The complaint was brought forward by Jessica Hurov, the manager of the Hippodrome in Gainesville, as a result of unwanted advances made by Niblock during an interaction in June of 2017. The Hippodrome is a professional theater in downtown Gainesville.
According to the report, Niblock and Hurov met at Volta Coffee, 48 SW 2nd St., in Gainesville on June 10 to discuss a “future job opportunity.” The two then agreed to drive in his vehicle scouting locations for what Hurov thought were related to the potential job.
During their conversation, Niblock made several references to his wife being out of town and said he was “a bachelor for the weekend.” He also referred to the meeting as a date, according to the report.
While driving through Micanopy, the report said, Niblock placed his hand on Hurov’s left thigh and lifted the hem of her skirt. He then said he “loves it when she wears short skirts and shows off her legs,” the report said. Upon arriving back in Gainesville, while parked, the report said Niblock put his hand on Hurov’s thigh again and his other hand on her shoulder and attempted to kiss her on the mouth. Hurov ducked and he kissed her temple, the report stated.
Niblock is facing a similar investigation by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office regarding an interaction with a woman on Marco Island.
City Councilors on Marco Island chose to “terminate with cause” the city’s contract with Niblock on March 19th for violating the International City Managers Association’s Code of Ethics. That action served to limit the exposure of any provisions for any severance for his services.
It is unclear at the time of this writing whether a warrant for Niblock’s arrest has been issued as of yet or whether he has surrendered himself to authorities in Alachua County. Niblock had been the County Manager in Alachua prior to his termination in September 2017, and subsequent hiring in November 2017 by the Marco Island City Council by a 5-2 vote.
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