- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2009

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — The Anne Arundel County chapter of the NAACP is asking the state prosecutor to investigate an allegation that County Executive John R. Leopold made an unwanted sexual advance toward a state employee.

The complaint is the latest in a series of incidents that have raised questions about Mr. Leopold’s political future.

Mr. Leopold, meanwhile, has asked the attorney general’s office to look into how the state employee’s letter detailing the allegation was leaked to the media because such investigations are supposed to be confidential.

Marvenise Harris wrote letters to the countychapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and to her employer, the state Department of Human Resources, claiming that on April 30, Mr. Leopold made an unwanted advance to her in the cafeteria of the building where they both work, The Washington Post reported.

“These are serious allegations,” NAACP county president Jacqueline Allsup told the newspaper, which acquired a copy of the letter. “We want to make sure the rights of the woman involved are protected.”

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, said Friday that Mr. Gansler’s office has investigated and that only a handful of people had access to the letter, none of whom leaked the letter.

Mr. Leopold’s office issued a statement saying that the Department of Human Resources had closed its investigation into Miss Harris’ allegation with a finding of “no probable cause.”

County police also investigated a report earlier this year of suspected sexual activity in a car at a mall parking lot. Officers found Mr. Leopold in the car but ruled that the report “unfounded.” Mr. Leopold has not explained what he was doing in the car.

Another woman has also accused Mr. Leopold of inappropriate behavior.

Karla Hamner, who served as Mr. Leopold’s spokeswoman, said Thursday that she had kept quiet out of fear that she would lose her job, but after hearing the latest allegations, she decided to speak out.

Miss Hamner said Mr. Leopold became “obsessed” with her hair, insisting that she keep it out of her face. Miss Hamner said as she took notes for Mr. Leopold in his executive suite in April 2008, he grabbed her arms and yelled at her, telling her to face him and to get her hair out of her face.

Miss Hamner later worked for the county police department but was let go before her three-month provisional period was over.

Miss Hamner said she has not been able to find a job since and has moved to Arkansas. She said she has hired an attorney and is planning to file a complaint against Mr. Leopold.

Dan Nataf, a political science professor at Anne Arundel Community College and director of the Center for the Study of Local Issues, said the incidents could be fodder for opponents.

“We’re starting to see a pattern perhaps?” Mr. Nataf said. “From a policy perspective, he has not raised the ire of the voting public, but from the point of view of his personal demeanor, that can come back to bite him.”

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