A state lawmaker from Baltimore has been stripped of his leadership positions in the House of Delegates after a state ethics panel recommended sanctions for a pattern of sexual misconduct.
The sanctions against Del. Curt Anderson were announced Friday after the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee made a unanimous recommendation for punishment.
House Speaker Michael Busch said Anderson, a Democrat, would be stripped of his leadership roles both as deputy majority whip and chairman of the House Judiciary Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Anderson also was ordered undergo “one-on-one intensive harassment awareness and prevention training in addition to the existing workplace anti-harassment training that every legislator is mandated to attend.”
“The House of Delegates has zero tolerance for sexual harassment or misconduct,” Busch said in a statement. “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 declined to comment, saying he had provided a statement to Busch’s office. A spokeswoman said Anderson told the Busch he intended to comply with the recommendations.
A full report was not immediately available, and it is not known when the ethics committee will complete the report and release it. The work of the committee is confidential by law.
In his statement, Busch said he referred allegations “regarding a pattern of conduct” Anderson was accused of “engaging with female staffers and members.”
The referral marked the first time Busch used his statutory authority to send such a matter to the committee.
The committee initially referred the matter to an unnamed law enforcement agency, beginning its own investigation after that agency released the case back to the committee. The panel, which brought in an unnamed independent investigator, spent 430 hours on the review and called 22 witnesses, according to Busch’s office.
Dogged by allegations
Earlier this year, five women told The Baltimore Sun about encounters with Anderson, including allegations of sexual assault more than a dozen years ago, unwanted kissing and comments directed at women regarding their appearance.
A woman who made allegations against Anderson and spoke to the independent investigator told The Daily Record on Friday she believed Anderson should publicly apologize and take responsibility for his actions.
“While I’m glad that the ethics committee came to this conclusion and I believe that the speaker made the right decision to remove him from leadership, unless (Anderson) acknowledges past wrongdoing, I am uncertain that additional training is sufficient,” said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the allegations. “He needs to claim his actions and apologize for them. I also hope that this will give courage to other victims of misbehavior from other legislators to come forward. Delegate Anderson is the first to face this process, but he definitely should not be the last.”
Anderson has been dogged by allegations of sexual harassment since the spring. In April, he unsuccessfully attempted to step down quietly from his role leading the Baltimore delegation.
He also distanced himself from Del. Maggie McIntosh and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, fellow Baltimore Democrats with whom had previously campaigned for election.
Still, Anderson narrowly held on to the third of his district’s three seats in the House of Delegates and is considered likely to be re-elected in November.
‘More work to do’
Dozens of women in Anderson’s district wrote Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. demanding action. Members of Baltimore Women United called for pressure to be exerted on the ethics panel to finish its work before the general election. The group also demanded that the Maryland Democratic Party to develop stronger policies against sexual harassment.
The party has agreed to develop those policies.
Similarly, the Legislative Black Caucus called for legislative leaders to resist calls to pressure the committee and allow a law enacted this year to handle the complaint.
Representatives of the caucus could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Denise Gilmore, co-chair of Baltimore Women United, said Busch’s announcement satisfied their request for resolution of the ethics review before the November election.
“But it doesn’t mean we’re not disappointed in the outcome,” said Gilmore. “I think additional sanctions should have been warranted to send a message to women in the workplace that these concerns are being taken seriously. There’s still much work to do on this issue.”