Judge dismisses charge against Phenix City councilman

A Lee County District Court judge dismissed Monday a charge of misdemeanor harassment against Phenix City Councilman Ray Bush afternoon in Russell County Circuit Court.

Bush, 70, had been accused by City Clerk's Office Administrative Assistant Charlotte Sierra of off-color, suggestive jokes and unwanted touching for the past two years. Russell County Assistant District Attorney Greg Waldrep called only two witnesses — Sierra and her supervisor, City Clerk Martha Harris — who described instances of Bush telling jokes in Sierra's presence referencing oral sex and describing the administrative assistant in a sexual manner.

But Lee County District Court Judge Russell Bush, who has no relation to the councilman, ruled for dismissal of the charges based on a motion by Bush lawyer Kenneth Funderburk that the testimony did not match the conditions in the harassment statute of the Code of Alabama.

Section 13A-11-8 of the Code states "a person commits the crime of harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she either: (a) Strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise touches a person or subjects him or her to physical contact. Or (b) Directs abusive or obscene language or makes an obscene gesture towards another person.

Funderburk moved for dismissal after Sierra's testimony and Judge Bush granted the motion, stating that the testimony would better fit a civil case of sexual harassment but did not fit the criminal statute for harassment.