ONLY ON NEWS 3: The truth behind Port Wentworth City Council racism allegations

A Port Wentworth city leader is fighting back against serious allegations.

In 2015, City Councilwoman Debbie Johnson was accused of slandering a constituent and a formal complaint was filed; but an investigation into the claims has just been completed, and now she’s speaking out for the first time about what really happened.

In August, William “Eric” Steely filed a the complaint, alleging Johnson was spreading rumors about him being a member of the Ku Klux Klan along with a former council member, calling him a racist through text messages, and even claiming she went to the Food Lion, where his wife works, and stared at her to intimidate her.

To get to the bottom of the situation the Georgia Interlocal Risk Management Agency hired an Atlanta-based attorney to do an investigation.

According to this 15-page report of their findings, while Johnson did ask some people about Steely being racist, it states Steely brought more allegations against himself by posting the texts online.

It also says there’s no evidence that any of the people involved are members of the KKK, which Johnson explained she had already figured out, and was only asking around after hearing rumors from her constituents.

“I’ve told the mayor before, don’t kill the messenger, I’m just asking the questions,” said Johnson.

As for the Food Lion incident, the documents explain that it does not appear Johnson was trying to intimidate Ms. Steely, but instead was trying to eaves drop on a conversation.

“I shop at the Food Lion up in Port Wentworth and I’m always in the councilwoman capacity even though I’m shopping,” Johnson told News 3. “People have a tendency to come up to me and ask me to do things or look into things and that’s what I did.”

Another councilmember, Paul Fox, told us he’s happy the situation is finally over.

“I’m glad she was exonerated, we need to move forward as a city and not, ‘he said she said,’ it’s got to end,’ said Fox.

“We don’t have time to spend wasting time on frivolous complaints when we can be making our city grow,” added Johnson.

We attempted to reach out to Mr. & Mrs. Steely for this story but still have not received a response.

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