A city councilor in Everett, Massachusetts, is speaking out about her allegations of indecent assault against a fellow member of the council.
Everett City Councilor Stephanie Martins said during Monday night's meeting that it is "disgusting that people would support" City Councilor Jimmy Tri Le.
She was reacting to public comment from David Fortin, who said, "At parties and stuff like that, there's a lot of drinking and stuff, that kind of stuff goes on."
Facing criminal charges of indecent assault and battery, Tri Le pleaded not guilty in April. When NBC10 Boston's Katie Brace tried to ask him questions about the allegations outside Malden District Court, he hid his face from the camera and sprinted away through bushes.
Martins has now publicly come forward as that colleague to make sure people know victim-blaming needs to stop.
"What was said yesterday was completely out of line. That's why victims don't come forward. That's why they don't speak up," said Martins.
Tri Le is accused of groping Martins at a St. Patrick's Day event that was attended by numerous politicians. The judge ordered him to stay away from her, meaning he cannot participate in city council meetings.
Applause could be heard in the chamber Monday when Fortin said, "We need Jimmy back."
"Whether someone had too much to drink or not, it's not an excuse to cross the line," said Martins.
She told NBC10 Boston victim-blaming has been an ongoing problem.
"He deliberately engaged in inappropriate behavior," she said. "There has been victim-blaming from the beginning. We haven't heard a single positive statement or anyone standing up against sexual assault."
Tri Le has other legal issues. Earlier this year, a business got a no-trespass order for the councilor. Two young women said Tri Le harassed them for a year, and they would hide in the back when he arrived.
"This is disgraceful," Martins said Monday night.
Martins walked out of the meeting, saying the treatment toward her has been unacceptable.
"Women shouldn't feel like an inconvenience because they have reported disrespect," she told NBC10 Boston.
The council says it can only remove a member over a felony charge, and has no authority to strip Tri Le of his seat.
NBC10 Boston reached out numerous times Tuesday to Tri Le and never heard back.
The Everett City Council has been in disarray between the charges against Tri Le and the backlash against former City Councilor Anthony DiPierro over racist messages to city workers. DiPierro resigned from the council last month.