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FIRST ON 3 UPDATE: Belville council responds to mayor's arrest

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BELVILLE, NC (WWAY) -- A day after Belville Mayor Jack Batson was arrested on a sexual battery charge, the other members of the town's Board of Commissioners responded to the situation.

WWAY tried to contact commissioners yesterday. Those we did talk to said it was the first they had heard of Batson's arrest.

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Allen issued a statement today on behalf of the whole commission that said:

"The Town learned about the charge against Mayor Batson yesterday. Under the American system of justice, an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. The board puts its faith in that system and will allow the process to proceed forth to its conclusion. In the interim, the Board will closely monitor the situation and take those actions deemed necessary to protect the interests of the Town’s residents."

Late Wednesday, Commissioner Donna Schardien told WWAY exclusively that she did not know all the details, but thought politics, not truth, may be behind the allegations against the mayor.

"We've got an election coming in November, and for someone who wants to get back in the council, there seems to be a lot of character assassination going on," Schardien said. "The mayor may have been set up. I believe it may be a witch hunt."

The Board of Commissioners censured Batson last month because of an inappropriate relationship he had with a town employee.

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