BROOKSVILLE — In the months leading up to his election in November 2012, then-Hernando County Commission candidate Nick Nicholson met a stripper at Calendar Girls in Pasco County and befriended her, according to an investigation by state law enforcement officials.
He went to her home in Spring Hill regularly, had sex with her, left her money for bills, brought her food and drove her to friends' homes where she was said to be buying drugs.
Phone records indicate that the relationship lasted from September through Christmas, after Nicholson was elected to the commission. The calls between the two stopped after Christmas Day 2012, when the stripper, Kimberly Losurdo, then 45, was arrested on charges of child abuse.
Her arrest made national news when a child in her care became ill after ingesting a piece of crack cocaine. A second child also had cocaine in his system.
But Nicholson's involvement didn't come to light until late last week when a 2-year-old investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was reported by local news blog Florida News Flash.
Nicholson was drawn into the child abuse complaint by a man who said he was Losurdo's boyfriend; the man, identified in records as Edgar Mallory, said he sometimes stayed at the house, which she lived in and he owned. Mallory claimed Nicholson was paying Losurdo for sex and driving her around to buy drugs.
When Hernando County deputies found out that Nicholson was involved with Losurdo, they called in the FDLE to handle the investigation. The investigation ended in late 2013 with a decision by State Attorney Brad King that Nicholson would not be charged because "the investigation lacked sufficient evidence," according to the report.
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times on Monday, Nicholson, 68, apologized for his poor judgment.
"I want to apologize to the people out there who have faith in me," he said. "I made a mistake.
"It all happened to me because I was lonely and not having a good time in my life. I used poor judgment," he said. "I was single. I considered this to be my private life. I obviously didn't make a good choice in choosing who to spend my time with."
Nicholson, who is divorced, said that he would not resign from the commission and that he intends to go forward with his re-election campaign next year.
"I was not charged, and I'm not going to quit over not doing anything," he said.
Nicholson denied to investigators that he was paying for sex with Losurdo. He claimed that he had driven her to friends' homes so she could visit or pay bills, and he gave her money to pay those bills. He said he didn't know she was buying drugs.
"Yeah, I helped her out 'cause she was nice to me," Nicholson told investigators. "But I didn't know what happened inside the building. Holy crap. That's a serious allegation. I absolutely did not do that."
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Nicholson's initial answers to investigators were not so direct. At first, he said that he didn't know who Losurdo was and that his relationship with her just involved a dance at the strip club in Hudson. He couldn't remember details of how he met her and how long he had been involved with her, according to the FDLE report, saying "he had memory problems for which he was once hospitalized."
When investigators told him that the two had exchanged 179 phone calls from September through December that year, he said "he did not remember talking to her that many times."
Nicholson told the Times that he had "never meant to be less than truthful" with the FDLE investigators.
"They never told me at any point in time that I was being accused of anything," he said. "Obviously, I was surprised. I was disturbed.''
Nicholson also said he never knew Losurdo by her real name.