After a particularly trying day at the office on Oct. 5, Cathy Haley, a longtime Riverside village employee, sat down at her home computer the next morning and typed out a call for civility on the web forum at

The first part of the lengthy post called out two men who had harangued Riverside village hall staffers about building permits and vehicle stickers. But then Haley complained about an elected official.

“Last year, I had to confront a member of the village board and tell him to stop touching me because it made me very uncomfortable,” wrote Haley, who is the administrative assistant to Village Manager Peter Scalera. “He responded in a very threatening manner.

“This same individual also let himself into my home, uninvited, through an unlocked door while I was incapacitated after my knee surgery. He has never offered a sincere apology for his actions.”

While Haley did not name the elected official in her web forum posting, the man she was referring to was Village President Michael Gorman. The events described in the web forum took place in 2010.

Haley confirmed Gorman’s identity for the Landmark, which sought police records about the incidents. Gorman’s name was redacted from those reports, said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, upon the advice of Village Attorney Lance Malina.

The Landmark has also obtained several documents relating to the incidents, including a letter from Haley to Gorman dated Oct. 12, 2010, complaining about his behavior, a letter of apology from Gorman to Haley dated Oct. 26, 2010, and village staff’s memo pertaining to their investigation of Haley’s complaints dated Nov. 23, 2010. None of those documents was redacted.

The documents encapsulate a series of complaints about Gorman’s behavior both inside and outside of the village offices from the time he was elected in April 2009 through the fall of 2010.

Asked by the Landmark to comment on Haley’s revelations on the web forum and about his ability to govern and work with village staff in light of the posting, Gorman responded with an emailed statement.

“Those who looked into the matter independently, that is the village attorney and the village manager, concluded that my actions were meant to foster a good, positive working environment, but that my actions, to an extent, had the opposite effect,” Gorman said. “I did apologize to Ms. Haley and I was told she accepted the apology. I have long considered the matter resolved.  It does seem unusual that this or any personnel matter would be brought up so long after the fact and in this manner, especially because so many people had already been made aware.  That includes the village board.  Regardless, everyone – Ms. Haley, myself, and the rest of the village board and staff – have been working on village business for nearly a year since and I expect all of us will continue to do so.”

But, a week after posting her message on the web forum, Haley said she has never considered Gorman’s apology sincere and continued to chafe at the behavior she described in her Oct. 12, 2010 letter to Gorman.

“In my opinion, he’s never really apologized for it,” said Haley in an interview last week. “He was sorry I didn’t understand what he was doing.”

In a letter to Malina and Scalera on Feb. 22, 2011, Haley documented that feeling.

“I ‘accepted’ President Gorman’s letter of ‘apology’ only because he is incapable of acknowledging any wrongdoing and accepting responsibility for his actions. To reiterate what I stated at the time I received the letter, the content was completely void of remorse and the delivery was insincere.”

She also disputed Malina and Scalera’s conclusion in November 2010 that Gorman’s behavior “did not create a hostile work environment.”

“Mr. Gorman’s behavior has created a hostile work environment in the past and he continues to behave in a hostile manner in the office,” Haley wrote in February.

Asked why she finally decided to go public earlier this month, Haley said that the two men who berated village staff for their own failures to comply with village rules was the last straw.

“I guess I reached my breaking point [on Oct. 5] with those two people, and I couldn’t take it anymore,” Haley said. “As someone who lives here and works here in the village, it’s hard to sit back quietly and witness these things and be subject to such poor treatment and not be able to say anything.”

It bothered her enough that as late as March 2011 she made two trips to the Riverside Police Department to file informational reports about her run-ins with the village president, even though that alleged misbehavior had ceased.

One police report pertained to in-office behavior amounting to “issues involving ‘getting in her personal space,’ including but not limited to allegations of inappropriate physical contact, being treated in a demeaning manner, threatened and in general making Haley’s work environment uncomfortable.”

The second police report details the day in May 2010 when Gorman entered Haley’s home through an unlocked door in order to bring her a get-well present – a cake from a local grocery store. Haley had been injured after being knocked to the ground by a dog running at large.

While admitting to police that she thought Gorman was “trying to be nice,” she also felt his actions were “inappropriate” and termed the incident “bizarre.”

Scalera and Malina launched their investigation into Haley’s claims in October 2010, although Haley had complained to them of “boundary issues” as early as June 2010. At the time, Haley didn’t wish to confront Gorman and the two men didn’t pursue the matter.

In their investigation report in November 2010, Malina and Scalera wrote, “We acknowledged that, in hindsight, earlier intervention might have mitigated matters.”

Asked last week why she didn’t press the matter in June 2010 or earlier, Haley said, “I never said anything because I hoped that it would stop.”

She said she finally went to Scalera and Malina in June 2010 because, “I said I need him to stop doing this, but I was reluctant to do it myself, because I see how he behaves toward people.”

What prompted the formal investigation was Gorman’s alleged reaction to a letter from Haley, asking him to stop touching her at the office. At no time does Haley suggest the touching was sexual in nature. In her Oct.12, 2010 letter to Gorman, Haley characterizes it as touching “my arms, my shoulders and my neck.”

In October 2010, according to the investigation memorandum, Gorman came to the office with a bumper sticker reading “Have you hugged your mayor today?” Haley alleged that he held up the bumper sticker before the three women working in the office and said, “Well, ladies?”

That action led to Haley’s letter of Oct. 12, 2010.

“This behavior is not appropriate for the village office, nor is it appropriate for an individual to enter another’s home without being invited or at least calling first,” Haley wrote. “I’m not sure how to interpret your behavior towards me, because I don’t know what your motivation is; however, I am compelled to let you know that your behavior toward me has made me very uncomfortable and you must refrain from ever touching me again.”

According to the investigation memo and the police report about the incident, Haley said that Gorman responded to that letter with anger. The memo states Gorman “yelled at her, stating such things as, ‘How dare you,’ and ‘I thought you were my friend’.” The police report states that Gorman directed her to the village conference room “and while screaming proceeded to ‘belittle’ her …”

In his letter of apology to Haley dated Oct. 26, 2010, Gorman said of his behavior in response to Haley’s letter, “My reaction was quite spontaneous. In hindsight, that was not the appropriate way to address the matter. I apologize for any misunderstanding.”

The village manager and attorney concluded in their memo that “we felt that the incident involving the bumper sticker was inappropriate, if well-intentioned, and that the meeting with Cathy after receiving her letter was inappropriate and unduly intimidating. We explained that employees must feel free to raise concerns without fear.”

The memo also concluded that “after meeting with all parties, we mutually determined that the facts were not in dispute.”

Gorman’s letter of apology states that he “will be cognizant of your perspectives and I will do everything within my control to respect your personal space in order to contribute to a productive working environment in the village manager’s office.”