It also says Alderman MacShane did not act in ‘reckless disregard of the truth.’
Frederick, Md (KM) A report has been released that clears Frederick Alderman Roger Wilson of sexual harassment. The allegations were made by Alderman Ben MacShane late last year, and posted on his Facebook page. The city hired an outside firm to investigate.
It released its finding on Tuesday which stated “Mr. Wilson’s conduct does not constitute legally actionable sexual harassment under state of federal law.” and “no formal action is requested.”
Alderman Wilson says he’s not surprised at these conclusions “It clearly states that I am not guilty of the alleged concerns against me saying that I had sexually harassed women in the community and also in the workplace, and that’s clearly no the case,” he said.
Wilson, whose announced he’s running for Mayor in 2021, said this was an attempt by Alderman MacShane and Incumbent Mayor Michael O’Connor to sabotage his campaign. But in a statement, Wilson says he forgives both Alderman MacShane and Mayor O’Connor for their actions. “My faith tells me to forgive, but I won’t forget,” he said. “I just can’t deal with having that anger in my hear and in my mind. But there are consequences and we will deal with those consequences at a later time.”
Even though he’s been cleared, Alderman Wilson was asked if this incident could linger as he campaigns for Mayor. “It’s important that the facts get out there in the public, and that the public has an opportunity to ask questions,” Wilson says. “And I am an open book. I have nothing hide. I look forward to responding to those questions.”
The report, prepared by Karen J. Kruger of KruegarLawLLC, says sufficient evidence was found that Wilson “relied on his position as an Alderman to gain the acquaintance and trust of women in the community. He then used his presence of helping these women as an opportunity to engage in sexual relationships with them.” The report cites two witnesses interviewed by the Krueger. “Although Mr. Wilson may have used his public official persona to meet these women, his propositions to them are fairly characterized as private contact,” the report further states. “There was no employment relationship involved and no indicators that he was demanding sexual favors in exchange for some benefit he had control over.”
The report also examined Alderman MacShane’s conduct. He told Krueger one of the woman who claimed sexual harassment on the part of Wilson had approached him at a public function. From there, MacShane came upon other women with similar experiences. “He noted some of the women’s allegations are corroborated in text messages and emails, some of which he had seen,” according to the report.
Krueger writes in the report that MacShane declined to name any of the women. She asked the Alderman to pass along her contact information to any of the women who wanted to come forward with information.
Later, she says she interviewed eight women in connection with these allegations. Six of them said they have been subjected to sexual advances by Alderman Wilson; two arose from events which occurred when Wilson was an Alderman, the report states.
Regarding Alderman MacShane’s actions, the report says his comments are protected by the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution,” even if the speaker is not correct in the views expressed,” according to the report. It also says free speech is not protected if is “wholly unsupported by the faces and was spoken (or written) with reckless disregard for the truth.”
The report goes on to state that MacShane, “upon receiving the first allegation of misconduct, endeavored to obtain and did obtain additional information that tended to corroborate the first complaint.” It also says the witness, interviewed by Kreuger, “further verified the alleged pattern of conduct that can fairly be described as unwanted sexual advance..”
“There are no facts that could lead a reasonable person to conclude that he acted in reckless disregard of the truth,” the reported concluded .
Alderman Wilson said he believe he and his family have emerged stronger from this incident. “We have had long conversations about what does sexual harassment mean.. It’s a leaning opportunity for my family in particular,” he says “It also gives me an opportunity to remind them that politics sometimes is nasty, and we’ve seen evidence of this this year in Frederick. I’m disappointed that this type of politics has emerged in Frederick. But these are the times that we’re living in.”
By Kevin McManus