TAMPA, Fla. — The former legal aide to Tampa Councilman Orlando Gudes released her first statement via her attorneys on Monday after she accused Gudes of sexual harassment in 2021.
The statement reads:
It is far too often that victims of discrimination fall prey to conspiracy theories and false narratives. Unfortunately, we bear witness to this happening today. Rather than admit to the nightmare he created and the irreversible damage he caused to his former legislative aide, Councilman Gudes has elected to wage war with alternative facts.
In reality, the facts of this case are clear and incapable of credible dispute.
Under the direction of a Florida Bar Board Certified Attorney and well-respected leaders in the legal community, two major law firms, Trenam and Gray Robinson, examined the testimony of twenty witnesses and reviewed scores of other materials. They conclude that Councilman Gudes engaged in conduct so reprehensible that it rose to the level of actionable discrimination under the law.
Councilman Gudes’ contention that it is acceptable to make inappropriate and highly offensive repeated references to anyone—whether friend or colleague—about a child’s body, women in the workplace or people of the LGBT community is, at best, disgusting.
This matter is not about politics or a so-called "hack job." Let's lay that conspiracy theory to bed. This case is about a man plagued with disciplinary problems as a Tampa Police Officer. And not surprisingly, as an elected official, he continues a reckless campaign of victimizing citizens living in this City. From his anti-Semitic comments in 2020 to the highly offensive and sexually charged comments about former President Obama's daughters, Councilman Gudes has absolutely no business representing the City of Tampa or its citizens. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing, rather than step aside, Councilman Gudes has decided to embarrass himself and the City of Tampa by remaining on the City Council.
We look forward to the day when one of the most courageous people living in Tampa Bay, his former legislative aid, can tell her story to a jury and hold Councilman Gudes accountable for his illegal actions and untoward behavior.
Ethan J. Loeb, Attorney
Bartlett Loeb Hinds & Thompson, PLLC
Gudes stepped down as the chair of the Tampa City Council on Thursday but said he had no plans to resign.
In a press release last week, the City of Tampa said the employee went to HR to report the "pervasive abuse and sexual harassment" by Gudes in August 2021. In September, the city hired an outside law firm to investigate.
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The firm, Trenam Law, documented 19 separate allegations, which included:
- Chairman Gudes making crude sexual statements
- Chairman Gudes making sexual gestures
- Chairman Gudes making derogatory comments about multiple women
- Chairman Gudes calling the employee “Celie,” the name of a character constantly abused in The Color Purple
The firm interviewed 20 witnesses, including Gudes, during its investigation.
"It concluded that the employee appeared to be credible and found several of the allegations corroborated by witnesses, including an intern who worked in the office," the City of Tampa said. "Trenam concluded that 18 of the 19 allegations appeared more likely than not to have occurred."
After the findings were released, Gudes released the following statement.