Venice mayor in hot water over scandalous photo

VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – The mayor of Venice is in hot water after a raunchy photo of him surfaced on Facebook. It shows what looks like him groping a woman.

The photo, taken in February, shows Holic in shorts and a polo, possibly grabbing a woman on the chest.

This week, a Venice resident sent a public email to the mayor and city council demanding an answer for this photo and now, many on Facebook are infuriated. Some are calling on the mayor to step down.

News Channel 8 showed the photo around town.

“Nobody should be doing that in public,” said one woman.

“I think she’s enjoying it, ’cause her leg’s up,” said one man.

“He’s the mayor, he shouldn’t do that. I mean, it’s not right,” said another person.

Mayor John Holic sat down with us to explain.

“One of the girls came up and said, ‘Look, you’re the mayor of Venice, could I have a picture with you?'” he recalled.

Holic says he was having wine with his wife downtown when a group of people in pirate costumes came by. When he posed for a picture, Holic says the woman grabbed his hand and placed it on her chest.

“It wasn’t even a body part. It was clothing over a balloon,” Holic said.

Holic understands why people are angry, but he insists he did not grope her.

“I wouldn’t apologize to her because I didn’t do anything to her. I apologize to the city of Venice for putting myself in an awkward situation,” said Holic.

Holic said he never imagined that it would ignite this sort of controversy.

“I never thought at all that something like that would be on Facebook because I don’t use Facebook. I’m not familiar with it. I don’t even look at it. I don’t even have an account so I just don’t think in those terms,” he said.

“Did I learn a lot from it? You bet. I will not stand so close to people anymore in the future…I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I put myself in that position. If I could take it back, I would.”

News Channel 8 reached out to the woman in the photo, but she did not respond to our interview requests.

The woman who took the photo put a statement on Facebook, saying she and her friends were having fun and would never try to get anyone in trouble. She apologized for the uproar this caused.

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