Almere alderman resigns over sexual harassment accusations

Tjeerd Herrema resigned as PvdA alderman in Almere on Thursday after being accused of sexual harassment. An external investigation is ongoing into these accusations, but Herrema decided not to await the outcome of this investigation, NOS reports.

Earlier this week a local newspaper filed a complaint with Almere mayor Franc Weerwind, saying that Herrema harassed one of their reporters. According to the newspaper, Herrema sent very personal messages to the reporter through Facebook Messenger. When the reporter asked for an explanation, Herrema replied: "I hope I didn't make you blush", according to the newspaper. Herrema denies this.

An investigation commissioned by the municipality, which is already in the possession of Omroep Flevoland, shows that the messages to the journalists were limited to a non-existent word (Cymbub), a picture of a cat, a thumbs up and a smiley.

There was also a pocket-dialing incident - Herrema's phone called someone while he was in the bathroom, without him realizing it. He previously said he was ashamed that someone heard him doing his business. The investigators said that the content of that call can not be determined.

"An accusation of sexual harassment is perhaps one of the worst a manager can experience. And believe me, I am devastated by it", the alderman said during a council meeting, Omroep Flevoland reports. Herrema offered to make his smartphone available for research, but the newspaper still decided to publish the altercation with the journalist. "In my view, journalistic principles have been seriously violated here Herrema said. He feels personally attacked by the newspaper. 

On Wednesday all parties in the Almere coalition except the PvdA declared no confidence against Herrema, according to NOS.