Fired Marco Island city manager Lee Niblock charged with battery in Alachua County
Fired Marco Island City Manager Lee Niblock has been charged with battery, a first-degree misdemeanor, in Alachua County. No court date has been set.
Niblock, who was fired last month, is also the subject of a Collier County Sheriff's Office battery investigation. A Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said Tuesday the investigation is ongoing and that there's no timeline for its completion.
According to the Gainesville police complaint, Niblock met Jessica Hurov, managing director of The Hippodrome Theater in Gainesville, at a coffee shop June 10 to discuss a “future job opportunity." At the time, Niblock was the Alachua County manager.
Niblock, 63, then offered to drive Hurov to various locations in the county that were relevant to the potential job.
While in the car, Niblock placed his hand on Hurov’s thigh and lifted the hem of her skirt, according to the complaint filed last month. Hurov told police that Niblock said he “loves it when she wears short skirts and shows off her legs."
Niblock also made multiple references to his wife being out of town, calling himself a "bachelor for the weekend,” the complaint said. He then referred to their meeting as a date.
Hurov told police that when the two returned to Hurov's parked car, Niblock again placed his hand on her thigh and tried to kiss her on the lips. Hurov ducked, and Niblock ended up kissing her temple, the report said.
Hurov stated to police that she did not want Niblock to touch her at any point during their interaction. Hurov could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.
The first-degree misdemeanor charge Niblock faces in Alachua County is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $1,000.
Alachua County commissioners fired Niblock in August, citing low employee morale and poor performance. The Marco Island City Council hired Niblock in November. His first day was in December.
On March 19 the council unanimously voted to fire Niblock with cause, including interviewing a female job candidate at a restaurant and ordering wine, the city attorney told councilors.
It is unclear whether that allegation is related to the battery accusation being investigated by the Collier Sheriff's Office.
According to the initial report from the Sheriff's Office, Melissa Scott, 41, told police the battery occurred Jan. 31 in a car near Scott's home on Marco Island. The report provides no other details about what happened.
Niblock has requested an appeal of the council’s decision. There will be a public hearing on the appeal at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Neither Niblock nor his lawyer could be reached for comment Tuesday morning.
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