The owner of Johnsons, a strip club in Wilton Manors, has accused City Commissioner Gary Resnick of using his position to get away with inappropriate sexual conduct during a June 28, 2017 business meeting at Resnick’s home. At the time, Resnick was the Mayor of Wilton Manors.
According to a police report, Resnick offered to massage club owner Matt Colunga during the meeting, saying the businessman looked stressed. Resnick then directed Colunga from an outdoor patio to his bedroom, where he pleasured himself on Colunga’s back, exclaiming, “I love my job” as he “blew his load,” according to the police report.
Resnick, who is the longest-serving member of the City Commission and the longest-serving mayor, said in a written reply that the allegations are “politically motivated and false.” Resnick was first elected in 1998.
“The police looked into this and noted there was nothing to pursue and closed the case,” Resnick wrote in a text. “Mr. Colunga has supported me through my political career. He even hosted a fundraiser for me and asked me to be in a movie about his club. I am truly disheartened by this false allegation, that is rooted in political malice, from someone who supported me in the past.”
Colunga confirmed that he did host a fundraiser for Resnick because Resnick portrayed that all the other commissioners wanted to shut Colunga’s business down.
The 60-year-old told police he couldn’t remember if Colunga ever came to his house, could not recall if the two went into his bedroom, said he never forced Colunga to do anything and denied massaging Colunga or touching him, saying “it did not happen.”
When police asked Resnick if he had any sexual interaction with Colunga, Resnick stated “he did not recall/couldn’t remember, then said no,” the report said. Colunga has said he felt he was in an “uncomfortable position” given that Resnick was the Mayor. Colunga is not pressing charges but wants Resnick to resign, and is worried that he has done the same thing to others.
Colunga said Resnick reached out to him on Facebook in 2017 and the two exchanged several messages online before agreeing to meet. Colunga said he wanted to find out what he needed to do to get his business opened. He saved the message thread and shared screenshots of the exchange with the Gazette.
“We should discuss what you have in mind,” Resnick wrote in a June 22, 2017 post.
Colunga replied, “That would be great. Thought it would be easier if I asked lots of questions and followed all the rules. But the club I used to run put a shadow on me.”
On June 28, Resnick wrote, “Was going to reach out but stuck putting together a new bed today. Ug.”
“Need help? Lol. Just let me know and I’m there,” Colunga answered.
The two met on Resnick’s back patio but Colunga saw no evidence of any furniture in need of assembly.
When Resnick began massaging him, Colunga said he felt trapped and didn’t know how to react. He never confronted Resnick about the 2017 incident for “fear of retaliation with his business” and the “embarrassing nature of the incident.” Colunga said he left Resnick’s home immediately after the incident.
Colunga told police he filed the May 21 police report after becoming upset when he watched Resnick publicly berate Commissioner Julie Carson at two recent City Commission meetings. Colunga told police that Resnick should not be a commissioner and should resign.
In late April, Colunga shared details of the incident with his friend Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, hoping Trantalis would put political pressure on Resnick to resign, but nothing happened so he filed the police report in late May. Trantalis did not return a phone message on Thursday before press time.
“I felt intimidated. Of course he [was] the mayor, he [was] the man in charge of the town where I want to open up my business,” Colunga said of the incident with Resnick. “And he wanted to massage me. What do you do? If you say ‘No, I’m sorry, this isn’t my thing,’ is your business going to open up? Gary didn’t stop at the massage. Gary decided to go further with it.”
Colunga, who is married, added, “He must have done it to other people. I can’t be the only one.”
Commissioner Julie Carson declined to discuss the matter.
“I really don’t have a comment. Matt is a friend of mine and this is a tragic event for anyone. It’s certainly a sad time,” she said.
The police report notes that the State Attorney’s Office indicated that simple battery would be the only crime possible, if there was evidence such as witnesses or photographs, of which there were none. The statute of limitations for simple battery is two years from the time of occurrence, and that has expired, the police report notes.
“[Colunga] believes he currently has nothing to lose as for him coming forward right now,” the police report states.
“The police told me to delete my Facebook,” Colunga said in relation to the ordeal. “I unfriended [Resnick].”