HALLOWELL — City councilors reappointed Police Chief Eric Nason to his post on Friday, despite two sexual misconduct complaints against him that were made public last year.

The 5-2 decision was greeted with applause from a decidely pro-Nason audience and came more than six months after the public first learned of a city police officer’s 2013 sexual assault complaint against Nason, who has been Hallowell’s chief since 2005.

“Obviously, the people have spoken,” Nason said after the vote. “The City Council listened.”

Nason, 49, has been working for Hallowell without a contract since 2008, keeping his job through annual appointments by the council. That wasn’t controversial until Friday.

However, there was little debate on the appointment at Hallowell’s annual inauguration ceremony, with councilors Lynn Irish, Mark Sullivan, George Lapointe, Lisa Harvey-McPherson and Kate Dufour backing the chief.

Before the vote, Irish noted the turnout at a December council meeting, where a dozen members of the public, including Nason’s 10-year partner and business owners, spoke on his behalf. More showed up Friday to bolster him.

“Overwhelmingly, our citizens have said that they want Eric Nason to remain as our chief of police,” Irish said.

In June, the Kennebec Journal reported that Nason was investigated by the Maine State Police in 2013 after the officer claimed he had assaulted her sexually. That four-month investigation ended without charges being filed against the chief, who admitted a consensual sexual relationship with the officer. She maintained that she was too drunk to consent to sex with Nason in an incident at his camp.

After publicity around that allegation, another woman told Hallowell officials that Nason had taken a pornographic picture of her as she slept while they dated in 1997. A private investigator hired by the city to look into the Rome woman’s claim said that while Nason admitted having seen the photo, he said he didn’t recall taking it.

Councilors Phillip Lindley and Alan Stearns voted against Nason’s reappointment Friday night.

Lindley said Nason showed “poor leadership,” criticizing him for having a relationship with a subordinate during a hiring process.

The female officer was promoted from part-time to full-time status in October 2013, days before the state police case on Nason was closed. Nason and the officer still work together, but Nason told councilors in December then that “this situation never affected my role as police chief.”

Darrick Banda, an attorney for the officer, said last month that her work environment has been “awkward.” He couldn’t be reached for comment after the vote.

Lindley said after the vote that Hallowell’s police force needs better oversight, and he said the council committee handling public safety will look into strengthening evaluation standards for Nason and his officers.

After councilors made their decision, the Rome woman who made the misconduct complaint against Nason hurriedly left the auditorium at City Hall and couldn’t be reached for comment by phone. The Kennebec Journal isn’t identifying her or the officer by name because they were prospective victims in the investigations.

City Manager Michael Starn reprimanded Nason in September for “lack of judgment” in both cases, and his situation prompted change in Hallowell: In October, councilors banned relationships between supervisors and employees and instituted mandatory sexual harassment training for all city employees.

In November, Starn announced that he would ask the council to let Nason keep his job when he came up for reappointment, citing his entire body of work in Hallowell.

At the meeting’s end, Nason hugged and shook hands with supporters, including Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, a former city mayor. He said his relationship with the City Council is good and he’s open to considering stronger evaluation standards.

However, he then nodded to the crowd, saying their response constituted a positive performance evaluation.

“They evaluate me every single day,” he said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

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Twitter: @mikeshepherdme