A Maine Democrat is at least the 30th lawmaker to leave office since January 2017 following claims of sexual misconduct, according to a 50-state analysis by The Associated Press.
Former Maine Rep. Dillon Bates quit last week while denying claims of inappropriate relationships with students. The AP‘s analysis finds at least 30 state lawmakers have resigned or been kicked out of office since the start of 2017.
An additional 26 lawmakers have faced repercussions such as the loss of party or committee leadership positions since last year. Numerous others have had allegations brought against them.
Bates hasn‘t been charged with any crimes and has denied allegations published in an Aug. 3 article in The Bollard magazine. The magazine quoted an anonymous source in an article that alleged Bates had romantic relationships with female high school students, including those he met as a teacher and coach at a now-shuttered all-female high school in Portland.
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Maine‘s Democratic House speaker, Sara Gideon, and Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett called for Bates‘ resignation following the article‘s publication. Bates has said he‘s resigning to avoid becoming a distraction.
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“In my time away from the Legislature, I plan to focus on clearing my name,” Bates said in an Aug. 19 letter of resignation he sent Gideon.
Bates and his attorney didn‘t respond to a request for comment last week.
About half of all state legislative chambers have followed through with at least some sort of change to their sexual harassment policies.
A new law in Maine requires that lawmakers and their staffs receive annual, in-person anti-harassment training and education — and it mandates that lobbyists also receive the same training. The legislation became law with Republican Gov. Paul LePage‘s signature this month, but it won‘t go into effect until lawmakers adjourn their ongoing special session.
Several lobbyists and lawmakers came forward in February to share their experiences with inappropriate behavior at the Maine Statehouse, including unwanted touching, lewd comments and leering.
State officials told the AP in December that it has received two sexual misconduct or harassment complaints against lawmakers during the last decade, one in 2009 and the other in 2011. The Legislature‘s human resources director said last week that the state hasn‘t received any complaints this year.
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