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Helfrich, York City Council won't call for Rivera's resignation after charges

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
York City Mayor Michael Helfrich applauds graduates during the Crispus Attucks Charter School graduation ceremony in York City, Friday, July 24, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Mayor Michael Helfrich and members of the York City Council on Monday said they would not call for the resignation of council member Lou Rivera, who has been accused of exposing himself to a potential employee. 

The York Dispatch first reported this past week that Rivera, who has served for less than a year on the City Council, was charged by Northern York County Regional Police on Sept. 24 with the misdemeanor offenses of indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and harassment, according to court documents.

Rivera has not spoken publicly about the charges, which stem from allegations that he exposed his genitals on Jan. 10 to a man who had just interviewed for a job at a restaurant Rivera managed. 

“These are allegations,” Helfrich said. “And just like you don’t want your loved ones, friends or neighbors to be found guilty until it goes to court, we’re all in the same situation now.”

More:York City Council member charged with indecent exposure, harassment

Helfrich said that there is "no action" in state law that allows cities to remove sitting elected officials based on allegations alone.

Less than an hour before Helfrich's comments, the other four members of the City Council released a statement in which they called the allegations "sad and alarming" but said the next step is a full investigation by law enforcement.

"Allowing due process of law does not lessen our compassion for and understanding of all victims of sexual harassment. Councilman Rivera is entitled to a fair legal process and as such, collectively, we appeal to the public to allow the legal process to proceed," the statement reads.

Rivera has referred all questions, including those about his political future, to his attorney, Niles Benn. Rivera again declined Monday to comment.

Benn has not returned multiple phone messages seeking comment.

The York City Council is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday. 

Lou Rivera is sworn in at the start of the first York City Council meeting of the year, Monday, January 6, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Charging documents state that Rivera was working as a manager for Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen in Manchester Township and interviewed a man applying for a job there on Jan. 10.

The man told an investigator he knew Rivera prior to the interview, police said.

During the interview, Rivera asked "numerous inappropriate questions of a sexual nature," which made the man feel "very uncomfortable," documents allege.

At the end of the interview, Rivera offered the man a job, police said.

After the interview ended, the man used a restroom after being shown where it was by Rivera, according to documents, which state the man was washing his hands when Rivera came in.

Rivera walked to a urinal and exposed himself to the man, according to charging documents.

"Rivera invited (him) to come over to the urinal where Rivera was exposing himself," documents allege.

The man refused and left the building, according to police. He was slated to start his job on Jan. 13 but declined because Rivera would have been his supervisor.

He contacted police on Feb. 29, documents state.

Rivera, who has not been arraigned on the offenses, will have bail set at his preliminary hearing, according to the office of District Judge Jeffrey Oberdorf. 

That hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16, court records state.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.