Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis is accused of abusing his office in a new lawsuit, allegedly offering to help settle an old court case involving a then-City Hall employee for $150,000 in exchange for a sexual relationship.
The suit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court on Tuesday, recounts a number of sexually explicit text messages allegedly sent from Davis to Stacie Percella, an ex-deputy register and union representative, as Hudson County View first reported in May.
Texts such as “I would eat you alive!!!!” and “love that ass!” were allegedly sent by Davis to Percella on July 8th and October 6th in 2014, respectively, both after the defendant was sworn in as mayor, the court filing says.
While alleged texts of this nature led Percella to call for Davis’ resignation, a new and more damning claim made in the suit says that the mayor offered a $150,000 settlement to Percella in exchange for a romantic relationship.
“On October 25th, 2015, Defendant Mayor Davis utilized his position as Mayor to indicate he would ‘settle and resolve’ the lawsuit filed against Bayonne, Waks and Censullo for $150,000,” the suit alleges.
“The implication was that Defendant Davis, as Mayor, would order the resolution of the prior legal matter if Plaintiff Percella would commit to involving herself romantically with Defendant James M. Davis.”
Back in June 2014, during the final days of Mayor Mark Smith’s administration, Percella filed a court case against former Bayonne Director of Municipal Services Joseph Waks and ex-Health Officer Richard Censullo alleging sexual harassment, a hostile work environment and retaliation. That suit is still pending.
At a re-election fundraiser at the Masonic Lodge last night, Davis, who is married, dismissed the complaint as someone looking for a payday.
“This is just somebody whose looking to make money off the taxpayers. As far as me and her having any type, there was never a physical relationship, we’ve been friends for over 35 years and no, there was never any offer to have, exchange any benefits or anything – what she’s claiming,” Davis told Hudson County View.
When asked if he considered the lawsuit to be fiction, the mayor quickly responded “absolutely, and I can’t wait until we get to defend it.”
Reached via text, Percella is sticking to her guns and remains unimpressed by Davis’ defense of the situation.
“Since May when I first came out with this, there have been at least 50 men who have sexually harassed their employees of other constituents for years. From the Senate, to movie directors, chefs, football directors, to the owner of Amazon,” Percella began in a statement.
“Yet, Jimmy Davis, who has admitted wrongdoing publicly, thinks it’s okay for him to run for re-election in May. The council makes believe that this has never happened and the mayor seemingly thinks it’s okay to talk to female employees [like this] because they were friends for years.”