The city of Goldsboro has hired an outside attorney to investigate interactions between Shycole Simpson-Carter, community relations director, and Councilman Antonio Williams.
A letter obtained from the city details the agreement between Randy Guthrie, interim city manager, and attorney Valerie Bateman, with the Forrest Firm, with law offices throughout the state, to investigate “allegations that have been made by a City employee and a City Council member.”
The letter is dated Oct. 19, about two weeks after Simpson-Carter filed a no-contact order against Williams in district court. Guthrie agreed to and signed the letter Oct. 23.
The letter also details how much the city is paying Bateman for her work –– a $1,500 flat fee and $280 per hour.
“The city is conducting an investigation into the matter between Councilman Williams and myself as a city employee through Forrest Firm, P.C.,” Simpson said in a statement.
The investigation stems from an interaction between Simpson-Carter and Williams at a Sept. 27 Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority board meeting, during which Simpson-Carter said that Williams verbally attacked her and made her fear for her safety.
The meeting was the culmination of what Simpson-Carter has characterized as months of frequent harassment from Williams, leading her to apply for the restraining order.
In November, Chief District Court Judge Elizabeth Heath ruled that Simpson-Carter’s telling of events did not meet the requirements for the type of restraining order she requested.
Williams has denied any wrongdoing, and has since lobbied to be reinstated to the GWTA board from which he was removed. He has repeatedly claimed that Simpson-Carter lied about their interactions and was part of a “conspiracy” to blunt his effectiveness as a councilman.
Mayor Chuck Allen mentioned the investigation briefly during the Goldsboro City Council’s Dec. 17 meeting, during a discussion about whether or not to reinstate Williams to the GWTA board. Allen was responding to Williams, who said that Simpson-Carter lied about interactions between the two at the Sept. 27 meeting of the GWTA board which led to Williams’ removal from that board.
“As you know, there is an ongoing investigation, for lack of a better term, into what’s going on with everything you’re talking about,” Allen said. “I don’t think we should be discussing it here, and I don’t plan to discuss it here, so we’re going to let the investigation get finished and then we’ll do it.”
On Tuesday, Allen said he did not know the status of the investigation, but that he expected it would come to a close soon.
“I haven’t been involved with it. I had been told that it was going to wrap up around the end of the year, so it should be wrapping up,” he said.
Allen added that the investigation did not come before the City Council for approval.
“The council didn’t have anything to do with it,” Allen said. “It falls under an employee/manager relationship, but the council absolutely had no involvement with it.”
Calls to Guthrie seeking information on the status of the investigation were not returned.
The investigation is separate from a civil lawsuit, which Simpson-Carter said she plans to file against Williams. She announced her intention to file the lawsuit at the same time she filed for the no-contact order but has held back on proceeding until the investigation wraps up.
“This is an independent investigation by the city that is not in coordination with the civil lawsuit that I will be filing,” Simpson-Carter said. “It was my intention to not obstruct or hinder the city’s investigation. Therefore, I delayed filing to freely and completely participate in the city’s independent investigation.”