Venice mayor's controversial photo with a woman

He says the photo showing the mayor holding a woman is not harassment and he was set up.

VENICE, Fla. -- An apparently inappropriate photo of the Venice City mayor is circulating on social media. 

The photo hit social media about a year ago and now it’s back. Mayor John Holic is seen apparently groping a woman’s breast as she raises her leg as she’s wearing a pirate’s costume.

A private citizen emailed the mayor and city council members to explain the photo and asked if it was real. The mayor responded saying he thinks he was set-up. 

But if public perception is important than people we showed the photo to say they are disgusted.

“I don’t like the way he’s touching her,” said Carolyn Sorg, a visitor from Indiana.

Debbie Wiley from Indiana said, “Your mayor is holding the boob of somebody and her leg is in his crotch. I think It’s disgusting. It goes with all the sexual harassment that’s on TV .”

“There was no sexual harassment,” Holic said. 

He said the year-old photo isn’t what it appears to be. He and his wife were enjoying an afternoon on Venice Avenue when his former barber walked up with a group of friends dressed like pirates. He said one woman in the group asked to take a photo.

 “I don’t know her name, never saw her before. She said 'do the pirate pose' and say 'grrr'. All of a sudden, at the same time, her leg goes up, her hand grabs mine, puts them there.”

Holic says he touched a balloon in her dress, not her breast.

Sorg said, “That doesn’t show here, people can’t see it’s a balloon. If that’s true, she should not have done that and should have better morals.”

I asked Holic---an elected public official-- why he didn’t remove his hand right away?

“The whole thing took two seconds, no thought about it,” said Holic. He added, “It’s not something I instituted. I got caught in an awkward situation. I apologize to the city of Venice I won’t apologize to her I didn’t do anything to her.”

The photo made it on social media the next day.

Holic said, “To be on social media that quickly, I think it was a set-up.” 

Holic thinks he was 'set-up' possibly for political reasons.

But without an explanation of how the photo came about, all people see is the photo as is.

The city council meets next Tuesday. No word yet if council members will bring up the photo.
 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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