Former Mayor Jim Davis has filed a $750,000 claim against the city, alleging defamation of character after police accused him of soliciting a State Street prostitute last year.
Prosecutors decided not to press charges for lack of evidence, but Davis' lawyer says the issue still dogs the ex-mayor."Regardless of where he is living or what he is doing, these same old tired tales keep surfacing and causing him great embarrassment," said attorney Kevin Whatcott. "Jim Davis lost a lot more than income."
Whatcott said that if the city doesn't respond satisfactorily within 90 days of an Aug. 4 letter asking for the $750,000 payment, Davis will file a lawsuit.
Davis' reputation has suffered because of the much-publicized investigation, said Whatcott, who said Davis' future earnings have also been affected by the attention.
Two off-duty police officers in the summer of 1993 filed a report stating they saw Davis near a well-known prostitute late one night. The woman later said she performed a sex act and that Davis paid her $50. The Salt Lake County attorney's office opted not to file charges, however, because there wasn't enough evidence to do so.
Davis has proclaimed his innocence, insisting the accusations are part of a vendetta by South Salt Lake police officers who didn't like his management style. At the time, he had been out of office only a few months, resigning to accept a urban-redevelopment post with Salt Lake City, which he quietly left this year.
Whatcott said Davis was forced from his Salt Lake City job because of the prostitution-solicitation allegations and was turned down for a similar opportunity with Salt Lake County for the same reason.
The former mayor now sells real estate.
City Attorney Kevin Wadkins said South Salt Lake's liability-insurance carrier likely will ultimately decide whether to offer Davis a settlement.
"The insurance company is driving the truck on this thing," said Wadkins, who added that Davis has indicated he "might be willing to settle."
Wadkins, however, said the city has not conceded any wrongdoing and hasn't taken a position on whether to even consider settling.
An unnamed city police officer was suspended for five days without pay shortly after the case was publicized last year because he contacted reporters to tell them of the investigation.
Though reports on such incidents are public record, local newspapers probably would not have picked up the story without the tip. Wadkins said the officer was disciplined because he failed to follow protocol in dealing with the press, a job that is supposed to fall to the police department's public information officer.
Whatcott said the allegations destroyed Davis' political career.
"He was a rising star and now that's gone. . . . He'll never be able to run again."
Davis was a popular mayor, winning office four times, but he also had vocal critics, including current Mayor Randy Fitts, a longtime city councilman who took office this year.
After police made the prostitution-solicitation allegation last year, Davis wrote the city asking for reimbursement of his legal fees and suggesting that South Salt Lake officers had harassed him since he left office, towing his car because it was not registered and citing him for having yard trimmings in violation of city ordinances.
Davis subsequently sold his South Salt Lake home and moved from the city.