NEW ORLEANS -- Mayoral candidate Frank Scurlock said Friday afternoon he will evaluate the future of his campaign after news broke that he is suspected of masturbating during an Uber ride earlier this year in California.
"We're going to evaluate it (the campaign) over the next few days,” Scurlock told WWL-TV. “As of now I have not withdrawn."
Authorities in Santa Monica, California, told The New Orleans Advocate that Scurlock was allegedly caught masturbating by a driver taking him to a hotel in West Hollywood on Feb. 10.
Officials in Santa Monica did not immediately return calls or emails from Eyewitness News but told The Advocate charges were not filed until Aug. 31 since there were questions about who would prosecute the case since the Uber ride spanned multiple jurisdictions.
Scurlock said the allegations are “without merit.”
He is due in Los Angeles County Criminal Court on Oct. 16, two days after the mayoral primary.
Scurlock said it was “sad” that the news came to light a little less than a month before voters head to the polls and made it a point to note that he was never arrested on the misdemeanor lewd conduct charge.
“I shouldn’t be pre-judged,” he said, adding that he was not made aware of the accusation until July. “I have my day in court in October.”
Scurlock, whose family invented the bounce house and has proposed new uses for the old Six Flag site in New Orleans East, has been one of the more colorful candidates -- figuratively and literally -- in this campaign.
Much of his campaign literature and billboard show him adorned in a purple top hat as he vows to “Make New Orleans Fun Again.” He also recently sent local newsrooms a purple brick that has “The Anti-Mitch” written on it in permanent marker.
Authorities in Santa Monica allege Scurlock was in the back seat of an Uber ride when the driver heard sounds in the back seat. She realized Scurlock was masturbating, authorities allege, and pulled over.
The driver opened the back door to find Scurlock’s pants around his ankles, his shirt pulled up and his “erect penis in his hand,” The Advocate reported, quoting a statement the driver gave to police.
The driver told Scurlock to get out of her car, authorities said, and he left the scene when she went to a gas station to call police.
Police later found Scurlock at his hotel, and the driver identified him from a photo lineup, Santa Monica authorities told The Advocate.
Scurlock would have to register as a sex offender in California if found guilty of the lewd conduct charge. It wasn’t immediately clear if he also would have to register in Louisiana.
Scurlock, who is also known for his skywriting over the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival each year, said he expects to be “vindicated” in court.
This hasn’t been Scurlock’s first run-in with the law.
A proponent of keeping the city’s Confederate monuments in place, he was arrested on municipal charges in New Orleans as he tried to speak to an NOPD officer at the Jefferson Davis monument in Mid-City shortly before it was removed.
That incident in May was recorded on cellphone video.
The video shows Scurlock trying to attract the attention of police officers who were behind a chainlink fence around the statue. He then followed an officer who walked out of the fence.
The officer told him to “not walk up on me,” and Scurlock continued to follow the officer, who pushed him against the fence and then arrested him.
He was first arrested on a charge of obstructing a public place but was later booked with assault and crossing a police cordon.
The city later dropped all charges because of a lack of evidence.
New Orleans Advocate staff writer Jeff Adelson contributed to this report.