Morrisville council member claims he was bullied, resigns

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Jerry Windle resigned from his position as a Morrisville Council Member during a town council meeting this week, saying he was bullied and endured slurs by a council member.

"After a year of being bullied and cursed at and recipient of homophobic slurs, I mustered the courage to come forward publicly in an attempt to bring the ugliness to the surface in hopes it would finally end," he said during the meeting.

Windle told ABC11 that Council Member Michael Schlink made the slurs against him.

"It's inappropriate behavior," Windle said. "It's harassing behavior. It's bullying behavior."

Windle said the mayor and council members did nothing to stop it.

When reached via phone, Schlink didn't want to answer ABC11's questions but referred us to statements he made during the April 9 meeting.

"(Windle) concocted a story that during our council retreat in front of witnesses, I made homophobic slurs against him and that I told him I wanted to fight him," Schlink said during the meeting. "Together, these alleged acts could rise to the level of a hate crime."

Schlink said he authored and sponsored the town's first gay pride proclamation last June and that the homophobic accusations are ridiculous.

"In another Facebook post on March 27th, Councilmember Windle falsely claims I spat in his face, threatening violence, issuing more slurs and adding that I also made racist statements -- all in front of witnesses," Schlink said during the meeting. "These allegations are all false."

Other council members said that type of behavior would not be acceptable.

"I don't accept bullying," Morrisville Councilmember Steve Rao said. "I know that my colleagues at the council do not accept bullying or discrimination so I just wish that this issue could have been worked out and we could focus on the great things we're doing in Morrisville."

ABC11 found out that this is not the first time Windle has claimed discrimination.

In 1999, he filed a federal employment discrimination lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company.

The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed.

Windle said an agent for the company took him to a conversion retreat shortly after he came out of the closet.

In 2011, Windle filed a lawsuit against an orthopedic and spinal surgery office where he worked. The court documents said Windle reported the doctor "spat at him while screaming and using threatening language."

That lawsuit was also dismissed. Windle said the doctor wanted him to lie about an assault on a fellow employee.

Windle said those lawsuits aren't relevant to what's going on in Morrisville.

"If leaders are allowing that activity to happen, what message are we sending to our kids?" Windle said. "The reason for my resignation wasn't because of the bullying or harassment that was happening by a member of council.

"The reason for my resignation, in the end, was because of the inactivity of the mayor and the inaction of the mayor or other council members to acknowledge what had been going on," he added.

Morrisville Mayor TJ Cawley sent this statement to ABC11:

"Former Council Member Windle has made statements against an individual who serves on the Council and these have been denied by that individual. Council has been working to address the concerns raised by both individuals over the past several months. The Town Council continues to prioritize working for the good of the Town and serving our citizens. The Town of Morrisville is often recognized nationally as one of the 'Best Places to Live' and one of the 'Best Places to Raise a Family' in the United States. We have benefited from the intermingling of gifts, talents, and voices from a widely diverse community and have a built a reputation as a community that embraces all."

As far as Windle's seat, the council will have to decide whether it will appoint someone or have an election. The decision will be made May 28, Rao said.
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