Clerk-treasurer accuses Carmel mayor of sexual harassment

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard (WTHR photo)

CARMEL, Ind. (WTHR) - The mayor of Carmel is facing some serious allegations about sexual harassment from another elected official.

Carmel Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley is speaking out after what she describes as an inappropriate email from Mayor James Brainard. 13 Investigates obtained the email at the center of the controversy at Carmel City Hall.

Pauley told Eyewitness News it’s been hard to do her job because of the mayor’s reportedly unwanted attention.

"It created a very difficult work environment," she said.

Pauley claims the city's top elected official has crossed the line with sexual advances. Pauley is upset about a March 26, 2016 email from Brainard inviting her on a secret getaway to Rome.

"I have a peer who am I suppose to work with and looked to as a mentor who I have presenting these types of emails to me," said Pauley.

The clerk-treasurer told Eyewitness News that Brainard contributed thousands to her election campaign and the alleged advances towards her started after she took office.

"It's inappropriate. It's inappropriate," Pauley said.

Pauley claims the 2016 email about a trip to Rome with him is not the first time the mayor tried to initiate something more than professional between the two of them. The Carmel transplant joined the city thanks to voters from Raytheon where she worked as a manager for years.

Pauley now believes she's being retaliated against for refusing the mayor's advances. The city's legal team just cleared up a notice sent to Eyewitness News about a council investigation meeting here in chambers is not aimed at Pauley. But clarification on who will handle the duties of a CPA she just terminated. Still, the mayor's office is firing back against the allegations with photos like one from May 2, 2016, showing Pauley with her hand on Brainard's back, apparently whispering in his ear.

The Carmel mayor's office shared this photo of Christine Pauley interacting with Mayor Jim Brainard on May 2, 2016. (Photo: City of Carmel)

Carmel Community Relations Director Nancy Heck shared the photo with Eyewitness News calling it proof Pauley didn't feel harassed by Brainard. She said she met with the mayor about the Pauley issue.

"The clerk-treasurer is leaning in close with her hand on his back whispering in his ear. That was on May 2, during a national campaign stop," said Heck.

Heck also defended the mayor by sharing emails where Pauley reportedly encouraged being around Brainard and witnessed by others.

The mayor's spokesperson told Eyewitness News during an interview that she believes Pauley was attracted to Brainard for his position of power. Heck went on to say, based on Pauley’s behavior, that she isn’t displaying behavior of a woman who is being sexually harassed by someone. Heck also cited emails from Pauley to Brainard that invited the mayor to even ride together to city events to save on fuel.

"It seems clear at city hall they were interested in developing a relationship more than professionally," Heck said.

Despite the Carmel City Hall drama, Pauley plans to finish her election term through December 31 as the mayor seeks re-election.

As clerk-treasurer, Pauley is responsible for millions of dollars for the city which includes payroll, audits, a city finance staff and more.

She doesn't plan to attend Tuesday meeting at city hall, but she does plan to ask the city council to allow her to do her job as treasurer.

13 Investigates has learned that Pauley is consulting with an attorney about the alleged sexual harassment involving Brainard. Pauley said she will not seek re-election in November, when Brainard hopes to land another term as mayor.