Monday, September 10, 2007
Florida City Councilman Commits Suicide Amid Sex Abuse Probe.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A city councilman apparently committed suicide Friday, hours after he resigned amid allegations he sexually abused two teenage girls and a woman, authorities said.
John Bryan, 56, was found by a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, slumped in a golf cart in the garage of Floral City home he owned. Paramedics were called and pronounced Bryan dead, Citrus County Sheriff's spokeswoman Gail Tierney said.
A riding lawn mower was running in the garage and two nearby four-wheelers also appeared to have been running at some point but were out of gas. Officers found a suicide note in the house, but Tierney said she did not know what it said.
Bryan was being investigated for sexually abusing three females, said Ron Stuart, spokesman for the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court.
Earlier Friday, Bryan acknowledged in court a sexual relationship with a young woman, but he said it was consensual and she was 18, Stuart said. At the hearing, Bryan agreed not to have contact with the alleged teenage victims.
"It is imperative for me to preserve what is of utmost importance to me, my family," Bryan wrote in the resignation letter he released hours before his death.
Councilman Earnest Williams told The Associated Press on Friday evening that he was shocked by Bryan's passing.
"I was very surprised and amazed," Williams said. "He was always willing to help out other folks. It's just a sad day for everyone involved."
In a resignation letter released to the media earlier Friday, Bryan wrote, "I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the citizens of this great community for their confidence in me to represent them. It has been a pleasure to work with one of this city's finest Mayors, and extremely effective City Council, and a truly great city staff."
According to court sources, a female who used to be in the Bryan home - who is now an adult - came forward claiming she had a sexual relationship with him that began when she was still a minor.
She also claimed Bryan had sex with his two adopted teenage daughters.
Bryan claimed in court that the relationship with the older girl took place after she became an adult - and was consensual.
He denied having any sexual relationship with the two younger girls.