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Published: Tuesday, 1/18/2011

Hudson, Mich., city official charged with sex act


HUDSON, Mich. -- The city manager of this Lenawee County city has been charged with indecent exposure for allegedly fondling himself last month in a city-owned vehicle on a public street in Adrian.

A misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure was filed Jan. 12 in Lenawee County District Court against Steven Hartsel by the county prosecutor's office.

The incident stems from an incident Dec. 22 when a motorist said she observed a man in a minivan masturbating on South Main Street. According to an Adrian police report, she said they were stopped for the traffic light at West Beecher Street about 2:45 p.m. when she looked to her right and witnessed the man performing the sexual act.

She told investigators the door frame on the vehicle obstructed her view of the man's face, and after the light turned green, she got the license number of the minivan as it drove away from the intersection.

The woman told officers that she didn't want to prosecute the person and instead wanted police to tell the driver to let him know what she saw.

Adrian police tracked the vehicle to the city of Hudson, and city officials informed officers that the minivan was used by the city manager at the time.

The report said that Mr. Hartsel initially denied the woman's allegations but eventually admitted to fondling himself and offered an apology to the woman.

Mr. Hartsel, who was in Adrian to attend a planning commission meeting, said it was a very stupid thing to do and said he will never do it again, the report said.

Indecent exposure, upon conviction, is punishable by up to one year in jail and $1,000 fine.

It was unclear Monday whether a court date has been set.

Mr. Hartsel could not be reached for comment. He is paid about $60,000 a year and has been employed by the city since October, 2009.

The allegation against the city manager will go before Hudson council Tuesday night and was placed on the agenda at the request of Mr. Hartsel, Mayor Dennis Smoke said.

Mr. Smoke said it would be inappropriate for him to comment before Mr. Hartsel talks to him and council members at the meeting.

The mayor said Mr. Hartsel has been a good administrator for the city.

"He has been a forthright person who pretty much is what they said he is when we hired him," Mr. Smoke said.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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