BATES CITY, Mo. — Residents in Bates City, Missouri hoped to learn more Tuesday night about Mayor Shawn Fox’s alleged use of a racial slur and an investigation into sexual harassment.
Staff were setting up for the regularly scheduled monthly Board of Alderman when FOX4 arrived just over two hours before the meeting. But shortly thereafter the doors were locked and a sign was posted on the window saying the meeting had been scheduled due to a lack of quorum.
Bates City is a city of just about 230 people along I-70 in Missouri. But it’s been full of drama and allegations and investigations the past few months. Some say it started with Fox’s campaign to oust the city’s police chief over a rental dispute.
“He came to my house and all he could do was talk about how basically awful she is how she does not care about the citizens of Bates City,” Brittany Riley said of Fox’s election in campaign this spring.
Then in August there was a meeting where there was discussion of disbanding the five person police department, instead contracting for services from Lafayette County.
But that was tabled when the police department brought forth allegations the mayor used racial slurs in City Hall and sexually harassed women.
“That’s brought a lot of concern from the citizens and business owners nobody wants to come to work everyday and be in a hostile work environment,” Charity Eaton said.
“I did hear the audio and I’m appalled I’m ashamed that we have a mayor who feels like that’s appropriate. Whether it’s 30 years ago or today if you are laughing about it that doesn’t sound like a learning moment which is what he said to a local newspaper,” Susan Woods said.
FOX4 left a voicemail for Fox and went to his home Tuesday but no one answered. Bates City attorney confirms the city has hired a special investigator and said that investigation should wrap up soon.
“My fear is this is going to destroy the town if it doesn’t bankrupt the town between the mayor and the special investigator we have going on today,” Woods said.
People who hoped to find out more about that investigation left Tuesday night disappointed.
“Is this trying to be swept under the rug? I don’t know, but this whole situation has me very concerned,” Peter Sorich said.
It’s unclear how or when residents will find out the results of that investigation. The next meeting isn’t scheduled until next month.