BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- An investigation by the Bardstown City Council revealed Tuesday night that Mayor John Royalty abused his power and violated privacy laws in an attempted to ruin the reputation of councilwoman Keshia Copeland before last year's election.

Bardstown City Council members received the report Tuesday night detailing what's being called "serious concerns" with Royalty. 

"Mayor John Royalty ordered a city employee to lie to city council so he could obtain their iPads under false pretenses and gain unauthorized access to their personal email accounts," said Scott Crosbie, the city council lawyer.

Royalty was noticeably absent at the meeting, his attorney saying he was in Louisville for a family medical emergency.

"Mayor Royalty improperly used city personnel and equipment to access, review and obtain copies of private email accounts and communication of councilwoman Keshia Copeland dating back to 2013 and before she was an elected council member," Crosbie said

Royalty has previously called the investigation a "witch hunt," which was brought up in the midst of Tuesday's meeting.

"I think it's very political," said Jason Floyd, Royalty's lawyer. "Witch hunt isn't the term, but it's been very political. And that's not unexpected, but I would hope that a council that has turned on him would be interested ... and it doesn't appear that way right now."

The city council now has several options: They can send this evidence to the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and to the Attorney General, and they can hold a public hearing to discuss removing Royalty on grounds of misconduct.

Council members scheduled that hearing for April 12.

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