Friday, December 15, 2017

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No charges for Upshur commissioner; district clerk says ‘no justice’

By Jo Lee Ferugson
Nov. 3, 2017 at 2:09 p.m.
Updated Nov. 8, 2017 at 9:32 a.m.

Upshur County Pct. 4 Commissioner Mike Spencer, left, and District Clerk Karen Bunn.

Upshur County District Clerk Karen Bunn said Friday that there is “no justice” in a decision not to prosecute a county commissioner she accused of assaulting her in late October.

Still, she said “we should move on” because that’s best for Upshur County. She issued that statement Friday in response to Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb’s announcement that no charges would be pursued against Pct. 4 Commissioner Mike Spencer.

Bunn said the incident occurred after a discussion during a Cherokee Rose Republican Women meeting in which she discussed software that county commissioners had purchased for her office.

Bunn said Spencer took offense to something she said and poked her in the chest three times. Bunn spoke during the meeting, which Spencer attended.

On Friday, Webb said the district clerk said the alleged assault happened after the meeting.

However, Webb said Bunn identified people she said witnessed the alleged incident. His office interviewed those people, but none of them confirmed any assault took place — they didn’t see the commissioner touch Bunn, Webb said of what the investigation found.

Webb said he, District Attorney Billy Byrd, Spencer and Bunn met Thursday to discuss how to move forward.

“The meeting followed the completion of an investigation began on Oct. 23 in which Bunn alleged that Spencer made offensive contact with her during a verbal dispute over county business,” Webb’s statement says. “The investigation, reviewed by the district attorney, concluded that insufficient evidence exists to pursue criminal assault charges again Spencer.”

Webb said Spencer and Bunn agreed it was in the county’s best interest for them to “move past the incident and work together in the interest of Upshur County residents.”

“While both parties maintain different perspectives on the events of Oct. 23, both agreed in the meeting that it was in the better overall county interest to drop legal pursuits related to the altercation,” Webb said.

In her statement, however, Bunn said she’s “not in agreement with the outcome.”

“I do not believe this sets a very good example for a grown man to treat an elected district clerk the way he treated me, or any woman,” she said. “Just the thought that a grown man would get so infuriated that he would get into a heated argument with a public official over an inadequate software system that he voted for is proof that he acted very inappropriately. Therefore, he should have controlled the situation and never have taken his frustration out on me.”

Webb said Friday that Chief Deputy David Hazel showed Bunn a copy of the sheriff’s statement before it was distributed to media and asked if she agreed with everything it said. She said “yes,” Hazel said.

Hazel said the sheriff’s office determined there wasn’t sufficient evidence to proceed with prosecution in this case. Bunn takes issue with Spencer’s behavior, but the issue before the sheriff’s office is whether there was an assault, he said.

“The rest is for adults to argue about,” but it’s not a criminal matter, Hazel said.

Webb said he considers the matter closed.

Bunn said she will continue to “be the professional person serving as your district clerk.”

Spencer could not be reached for comment Friday.



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