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      Bond set for Atlantic Beach Mayor

      *UPDATE: The charge against Retha Pierce has been dimissed by Judge Margie Livingston because Carolyn Cole failed to show up to court, as did the prosecuting officer from Atlantic Beach.

      Bond was set Tuesday at $2,000 for Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce on a charge of Third Degree Assault and Battery.

      Pierce turned herself in Monday, spent the night in jail, and represented herself at Tuesday's bond hearing.

      According to the arrest warrant, Atlantic Beach Councilwoman Carolyn Cole says Pierce shoved her and threw water on her after a council meeting on April 8.

      Pierce says the charges are made up. "I know what she did. Everybody knows what she did. She fabricated this. This didn't occur. It absolutely did not occur," Pierce said.

      However, WPDE NewsChannel 15 was at the April 8 council meeting and reporter Brianna Smith witnessed the altercation between Pierce and Cole.

      Brianna was there to cover the town council meeting, but the altercation took place after we stopped recording.

      According to the police report, Cole says Mayor Pierce was waving her gavel at Brianna, and when Cole tried to intervene, Pierce turned on her. Cole says that's when Pierce assaulted her.

      We asked Brianna to explain what she saw take place between Cole and Pierce. "I saw Retha Pierce approach Carolyn Cole, and I did see her hit Carolyn with her upper body. I then saw her take a water bottle and throw it on Carolyn Cole to which Carolyn had several wet spots all over her shirt."

      We asked Cole to speak about the incident. She declined to go on camera, but says she knows the truth will come out in court.

      As a condition of her bond, Pierce has been ordered to avoid any contact with Cole except at a place of business, like a council meeting. But, Pierce says she doesn't plan on going near Cole either way.

      "I really wouldn't have any reason to be in contact with her anyway," Pierce said. "Finding out a person would go to this extent for power, for political gain, and for financial gain, this is not the kind of audience that I would like to keep anyway. This is not the kind of company I'd like to keep."

      Pierce remains the mayor of Atlantic Beach, even though the state supreme court dismissed her appeal of the election she lost last year.

      Cole says Jake Evans, the winner, hasn't been sworn in because there's still another appeal of that election by another candidate.

      Editorial Note:

      We want to explain why we interviewed our reporter, Brianna Smith, for this story. As journalists, we have a responsibility to the truth.

      Because Brianna was there and witnessed the incident, we had an obligation to report what she saw.

      As for why we didn't report the incident to begin with, no charge had been filed.

      When Carolyn Cole filed the police report , she named Brianna as a witness. Brianna is not named in the arrest warrant .

      We will continue to report this story fairly and ethically.