Councilor Freddy Rodriguez reads a prepared statement responding to an ongoing protest by former councilor Marty Justus during an Ontario City Council meeting. (The Enterprise/Liliana Frankel)
ONTARIO – Ontario City Councilor Freddy Rodriguez on Wednesday apologized for his persistent accusations that former Councilor Marty Justus was a child abuser.
“I allowed myself to cross a line and expose all of this in a very unprofessional manner in which I wholeheartedly from the bottom of my heart apologize for,” Rodriguez said in a statement he posted to his council Facebook page.
He apologized a day after the Enterprise published an investigative report that showed his public statements accusing Justus were unsubstantiated.
The statement, while “wholehearted,” focused on how he had conveyed the accusations to the community.
He said he spoke out because he was “so desperate to assist those that may be and ARE being preyed on in our community,” Rodriguez said.
He also appeared to apologize for how he had handled the ensuing dispute with Justus that arose following his false accusations.
The conflict between the two men most often played out during the opening comment period of Ontario City Council meetings, which are broadcast live. The dynamic had Justus arriving to protest Rodriguez’s conduct and Rodriguez taking aim at Justus from the dais.
On one occasion, Rodriguez swore at Justus and called him a “chomo” from the dais.
“Never should I have allowed my emotions for protection of the vulnerable to take such actions as to defend myself as a regular citizen from my an elected seat,” said Rodriguez.
He said it was “never my intention to disrupt any city operations in the way they’ve played out.”
The Enterprise investigation obtained police reports from the Ontario Police Department and the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office.
Ontario Police Chief Steven Romero confirmed that the anonymous informant who instigated one report was Mayor Riley Hill, a political rival of Justus’ during the time that they both served on city council.
A police report said Hill was acting on information he heard from a secondhand source about an incident five years earlier. The police eventually reached the young man Hill’s informant identified as having been possibly abused by Justus as a minor. The man told investigators that he had indeed had contacts with Justus via a dating application but never in person and that he was an adult at the time.
The Ontario police concluded that there was no crime. But this answer didn’t satisfy Rodriguez, who, according to Romero, reported to the sheriff’s office that “we were ignoring this matter.”
Rodriguez later relayed other allegations to police that weren’t substantiated
Justus recently notified the city that he may sue for Rodriguez and Hill’s “specious and retaliatory allegations of criminal conduct.”
He has been active in the current recall effort being mounted against Rodriguez, and said that the councilor was likely continuing his attacks against him for political reasons.
Rodriguez in his statement said he would continue to serve the community regardless of how the recall effort ends.
“I’m ready to put all this hate and divisiveness behind me and the community,” he said.
News tip? Contact reporter Liliana Frankel at [email protected] or 267-981-5577/
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