ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A Maryland lawmaker will lose his leadership posts and must have extra training about sexual harassment after a legislative ethics panel’s investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, the speaker of the House of Delegates announced Friday.
The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee unanimously recommended Thursday that Del. Curt Anderson undergo “one-on-one intensive harassment awareness and prevention training” in addition to the existing workplace training all lawmakers must attend, Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch said in a statement. The speaker also said he has decided to strip the Baltimore Democrat of his leadership positions in the House as deputy whip and chairman of a subcommittee on criminal justice.
“The House of Delegates has zero tolerance for sexual harassment or misconduct,” Busch, a Democrat, said. “My goal has been and continues to be to make Maryland the safest legislative workplace in the country. While we have made significant strides over the past five years, like many workplaces across the country, we are still working to ensure that every victim feels safe coming forward and that inappropriate behavior does not occur.”
Anderson has denied the allegations, which included an accusation of sexual assault in 2004 that was outlined in a 2017 police report in Baltimore. Anderson was not charged. Other accusations included an unwanted kiss and inappropriate comments.
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“I think it’s a fair decision, and I plan to fully cooperate with the speaker’s office,” Anderson said Friday in a telephone interview.
The speaker personally referred the allegations to the ethics panel in January regarding a “pattern of conduct” that Anderson was accused of regarding female staffers and lawmakers. The committee, which is comprised of House and Senate members, hired an independent investigator to conduct the investigation. The committee and investigator interviewed 22 witnesses and spent more than 430 hours investigating the allegations contained in the speaker’s referral, the speaker’s office said.
The police report says a woman told police she was employed as a legislative aide at the time of the alleged December 2004 incident in a Baltimore office. The woman told police Anderson started to kiss her on the neck and mouth, and that she resisted and pushed him back. She said he pushed her onto a sofa in the office, pulled down her pants and performed oral sex on her, according to the police report.
In an interview with The Baltimore Sun for an article published in June, Anderson denied the incident took place. The newspaper first reported the legislative panel’s investigation in June.
Two lawmakers told The Associated Press in June that they had been interviewed by the panel. They spoke on condition of anonymity at the time, citing the sensitivity of the allegations and the confidentiality of the investigation.
The allegations involving the lawmakers dated from 2015. One lawmaker told the AP that Anderson “leered” at her in front of colleagues on the House floor and told her, “I’d do you.”
Another lawmaker told the Sun that Anderson approached her on the floor of the chamber, said, “They say I’m not supposed to do this anymore,” and kissed her on the mouth.
This year, the General Assembly passed legislation to strengthen how the legislature handles sexual harassment complaints. During the legislative session, three female state lawmakers told a legislative committee about sexual harassment they’ve experienced while working in the statehouse.