Mayor accused of inappropriate touching will stand trial

Third-degree misdemeanor a serious charge, defense says.

Harveysburg’s mayor, on voluntary leave after accusations that he touched a village worker’s buttocks prior to an April 28 council meeting, is scheduled to stand trial.

Dick Verga, 75, was charged with a misdemeanour count of sexual imposition after village clerk Carol Nelson filed a criminal complaint against the mayor.

“Although it’s a third-degree misdemeanour, it’s a fairly serious offense given that you have reporting requirements, sexual registration requirements, if you’re convicted,” said Charlie Rittgers, who is representing Verga in the case. “If he’s guilty of anything, he’s guilty of making inappropriate comment.”

In a complaint filed with the village council in April, Nelson wrote, “As I was pushing in my chair, he touched my rear end three times, and I turned and told him to never touch my rear end again.”

According to Nelson, Verga said, “I reserve the right to touch your butt,” and continued to touch her buttocks one more time.

Nelson spoke to the newspaper May 6, shortly after the council voted to restrict communication between the clerk and mayor.

“No one has a right to touch you, no matter who they are,” Nelson said. “Nobody is above the law.”

Verga has been mayor in Harveysburg since 2008.

“It is rare, very rare, that these type of cases come up,” said Lt. Eric Johnson with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. “It has to be more than a he said/she said. There has to be other … evidence to show that the crime did occur.”

Rittgers said Verga has degenerative retinal disease, is blind in his left eye and only has 30 percent of his vision in his right eye.

“He has other issues,” Rittgers told the newspaper Tuesday. “He was using a walker, and he does on occasion bump into things.”

The mayor took a voluntary leave on May 22 during a special village council meeting.

Council President Kevin Martin is serving as acting mayor while Verga is on leave, which is expected to continue until at least July 14, according to council minutes obtained by the newspaper.

Verga is scheduled to be in court for his trial on Aug. 1, according to Warren County court records.

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