KSL TV, File

Utah mayor's aggressive behavior violated city policies, investigator concludes

By Katie McKellar, KSL | Posted - Apr 22nd, 2019 @ 5:04pm

GRANTSVILLE — A newly-released version of a previously heavily redacted report shows an investigator concluded that a Utah mayor — who has been accused of being demeaning and physically intimidating to former city employees and others — violated city policies multiple times.

"After completing a careful review of all witness testimony and relevant documentation, I conclude Mayor (Brent) Marshall engaged in behaviors and conduct on several occasions which constituted clear violations of the personnel policies of the city of Grantsville," wrote Spencer Phillips, the outside attorney the city hired to investigate the mayor's behavior, in the conclusion of the report.

The previously redacted section is included in the same 16-page report that showed the Grantsville mayor admitted to putting zip tie "handcuffs" around the wrists of a city employee, putting his arms on a resident, and raising his voice at another former employee — but he told the investigator he didn't do anything wrong, calling himself a "touchy person."

The investigation into Marshall was commissioned over a year ago by the Grantsville City Council after the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune reported allegations against Marshall.

The State Records Committee last month ordered the investigative report to be released under Utah's open records laws after Grantsville unsuccessfully argued the entire report was protected under attorney-client privilege. The report, however, contained pages of redactions.

A less-redacted version of the report was then released after a joint meeting last week with a representative from the State Records Committee and the city's outside attorneys to determine what should or shouldn't have been redacted, according to Grantsville City Attorney Brent Coombs. The Deseret News obtained that version of the report Monday.

Also previously redacted were multiple pages showing whether Phillips, after conducting about two dozen interviews, substantiated accusations against Marshall. While the investigator determined some allegations were inconclusive, several allegations were substantiated.

Those include instances when the mayor raised his voice at former Grantsville Recorder Rachel Reid Wright and put his hands on her shoulders to sit her down in a chair. The investigator also substantiated the allegation that Marshall zip-tied the wrists of Shauna Kertamus, the city's former planning and zoning administrator, and Marshall "exhibited verbally and physically abusive behavior" to two Grantsville residents, Laurie Hurst and Susan Johnsen, by putting his arms on Hurst's shoulders and yelling at them while meeting in his office, according to the report.


Phillips determined all three incidents to have violated the "professionalism" section of the city's employee code of conduct.

Another allegation the investigator determined was "inconclusive" remained redacted from the latest version of the report.

Marshall admitted to the general details of the allegations but said he did nothing wrong.

"I'm a touchy person, but I didn't realize that I was offensive to a lot of people," Marshall told the investigator, according to the report.

Marshall didn't respond to a request for comment Monday.

In the months since the conclusion of the investigation, little to no action has been taken other than to update the city's employee handbook and training to ensure employees know how to file complaints.

Residents including Johnsen have expressed disappointment there has been no public apology or acknowledgment from Marshall that his behavior was inappropriate.

The City Council has discussed the situation in closed meetings, Councilwoman Krista Sparks said, but she declined to discuss specifics because it's a city personnel matter.

Sparks said since the accusations came to light, City Council members have met with the mayor to discuss the matter and worked with the city's human resources director to update policies and training, but that's about as much as the council can do.

"Our hands are tied as City Council, to some extent," Sparks said. "We can't impeach the mayor."

Under state law, elected officials can only be removed from office if they commit high crimes or misdemeanors.

"But we did take action in the fact we had some checklists and things we wanted him to do and improve on, and we've continued to check in with our H.R. director and city attorney to make sure things are running smoothly," Sparks said.

She said she couldn't speak for individual employees, but she's heard some comments from current city staff that it's been "hard" on them to see the issue in the media.

"After we close this chapter, I think things will improve going forward," she said.

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