GRANTSVILLE — Months after former city employees accused Grantsville Mayor Brent Marshall of fostering a demeaning and intimidating work environment, a heavily redacted report detailing the findings of an investigation into the accusations has come to public light.
In the 16-page report, Marshall 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 city employee — but he didn't admit to any wrongdoing, calling himself a "touchy person."
Though women who experienced this behavior from the recently re-elected mayor said his behavior left them feeling intimidated and ultimately led them to leave their jobs, Marshall told the investigator hired by Grantsville that he didn't mean to offend.
When he zip-tied the wrists of Shauna Kertamus, Grantsville's former planning and zoning administrator, Marshall told the investigator, "It was all in fun, she wanted it done."
Marshall admitted he placed his arms on the shoulders of Susan Johnsen, a Grantsville resident who fought a city proposal to turn part of the J. Reuben Clark Historic Farm into a cemetery, but he chalked that up to his personality.
"I'm a touchy person, but I didn't realize that I was offensive to a lot of people," he said.
And when he raised his voice at former Grantsville Recorder Rachel Reid Wright, he did it only because she was "yelling at me." Though Wright accused the mayor of grabbing her by the shoulders and shoving her into a chair to stop her from walking out of his office, Marshall said that isn't how he saw it.
"I didn't push her back into the chair; I was trying to get her to sit down and keep talking about the issue with me," the mayor told the investigator.
When asked whether he felt his actions were appropriate, the mayor said, "I probably shouldn't have touched her, but I've been that way all my life."
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 investigative report first came to light after the Salt Lake Tribune won an appeal last week following a monthslong dispute over whether the city was required to release the report under Utah's open records laws.
The State Records Committee last month ordered the document to be released after Grantsville unsuccessfully argued the entire report was protected under attorney-client privilege.
Still, the report is heavily redacted. Of 25 interviews, most names were redacted except those already identified in newspaper articles.
Johnsen told the investigator she found Marshall to be consistently "rude and a bully." One unnamed witness said she had not had any experiences when the mayor treated her inappropriately, but she confirmed she had heard Marshall "raise his voice at others" and that his behavior "puts everyone on edge."
Another unnamed witness said the mayor "does get close to people" and "gets into their personal space," confirming that Marshall "could be boisterous if he's upset about something," but he denied experiencing or witnessing behavior that he felt was "troubling."
Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne told the investigator he's personally experienced "verbal aggression and bullying" from Marshall and he's concerned about the mayor's "arrogance and flippancy." Milne also said he's seen the mayor "put his hands on ladies' (shoulders)" and that he often assumes a "'folksy, small town' persona in an effort to excuse his behavior," according to the report.
Another unnamed witness said Marshall "simply does not respect others and that he repeatedly engages in behavior that blatantly demonstrates his lack of respect," the investigator wrote. The witness "believes that if any other city employee engaged in the same behavior as Mayor Marshall, that employee would be terminated from employment," the report states.
The investigator's conclusions in the report are completely redacted. It's unclear what actions were recommended as part of the investigator's findings. In the months since the completion of the investigation, little to no action has been taken, other than an update to the city's employee handbook and training to ensure employees know how to file complaints.
Marshall did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Johnsen said she's been "disappointed" that there has been no apology or public acknowledgment from Marshall that his behavior was inappropriate, but at least the public is now aware of what was happening.
"I think it's important for all of us to understand everybody needs to act in a professional manner in their job," Johnsen said. "I think it's important for elected officials to at least be held to the same standard."12 comments on this story
City Councilman Neil Critchlow said the City Council discussed the accusations in closed meetings but can't discuss the specifics of the situation because it's a personnel matter, but added, "We can't throw him out of office" because he's an elected official. Under state law, elected officials can only be removed from office if they commit high crimes or misdemeanors.
Yet at the same time, "people need to know what's happening," Critchlow said.
"Certain actions — illegal or not — are inappropriate, and they need to be held accountable," he said.
Asked if Marshall's behavior has changed since the accusations against him were made public, Critchlow said, "He's quieter, how's that?"