East Spencer town manager acquitted on sexual battery charge

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, July 18, 2023

EAST SPENCER — On Friday, a two-and-a-half year legal battle came to a close for East Spencer’s Town Manager Michael Douglas, with a finding of not guilty for a sexual battery charge from June 2020.

The woman claimed the incident happened in her home in August of 2019, while Douglas was town manager of Kenly in Johnson County.

“I am incredibly grateful for this outcome,” said Douglas on Friday. “I’m relieved this is over.”

He acknowledged the civil trial still has to take place, but he said he feels much more confident going in to that trial with the information that came to light during the criminal trial. Because that case has not yet taken place, some information was not releasable. But Douglas said it was clear the woman did not prove her case, and that there were a number of discrepancies that came to light. Douglas did provide a DNA sample but there was no match.

Douglas’ contract in Kenly was due for renewal in July of 2020, but following the arrest, the town voted not to renew it.

When Douglas was hired by the town of East Spencer in 2021 as the town administrator, Mayor Barbara Mallett said the town was aware of the pending charges but hired Douglas based on his experience and his vision for the town, and the belief he was not guilty.

“We did a complete background check and interviewed his references,” Mallett said at the time. “We hired him because of his expertise and because we thought he would be a good fit for the town.” There’s been no discussion among East Spencer board members about action to be taken if Douglas is convicted of the charge, she added.

Douglas is a California native with degrees from Grambling State University and the American Military University. He began his Army career in 1995 and retired in 2013 while stationed at Fort Bragg. Douglas then taught for two years in Cumberland County before serving as town administrator in the town of Green Level and town manager in Kenly.

Since being hired in East Spencer, the town has transitioned from a city council only form of government to a city council-town manager format, and Douglas’ contract was renewed but as town manager.