ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - An ethics panel of Maryland lawmakers could not resolve conflicting accounts between a Maryland legislator accused of sexually assaulting a legislative staffer in 2004 and the accuser, but the panel found the lawmaker went against standards of conduct expected of legislators in other cases, according to a report released Friday.
The report found there was no physical evidence to support the allegations against Del. Curt Anderson. The panel also said there was no evidence - testimonial or other - that could be used to corroborate either version of the conflicting testimony. Anderson, a Baltimore Democrat, “categorically denied the allegations” under oath, the report said.
“In light of the conflicting testimony, and given the limited evidence before the committee, the committee could not conclude whether the alleged 2004 sexual assault occurred,” the panel concluded in a four-page report that was made public along with a one-page letter to House Speaker Michael Busch.
A police report from last year says a woman told police she was employed as a legislative aide at the time of the alleged 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. No charges were filed.
In a letter to Busch, the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics noted that the alleged 2004 incident was brought to the attention of the then-House chair of the committee in 2005. As required by law, it was referred to authorities, but when the then-House chair was informed the woman did not want to proceed further with a complaint, the investigation ended.
“Based on the limited evidence available, it appears that the entire membership of the committee was not informed of the full nature of the allegations or the name of the member involved,” the letter written by Sen. James DeGrange and Del. Adrienne Jones, who chair the panel, said. “The committee will be reviewing internal reporting policies and procedures to ensure that the full committee and the Presiding Officers are notified and aware of any complaints against legislators that are filed with the committee.”
Separately, the panel also recommended that the General Assembly revise and strengthen required training about sexual harassment for all legislators.
In addition, the ethics committee investigated allegations of sexual misconduct, such as inappropriate behavior and jokes of a sexual nature, involving seven women.
“Two women fully cooperated with the committee’s investigation and provided the committee with sworn testimony,” the report said. “Under oath, Delegate Anderson partially admitted to making inappropriate comments.”
The ethics panel found evidence Anderson engaged in conduct “contrary to the General Assembly’s Anti-Harassment Policy.” 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 happened in 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 Baltimore 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.
The panel recommended Anderson receive “intensive harassment awareness and prevention counseling.” Busch, who referred the allegations to the panel in January, also has stripped Anderson of his leadership positions. Anderson has described the recommendations and actions as fair, and said he will cooperate.
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