Security video shows Maryland lobbyist touching lawmaker. He says it vindicates him. She says it vindicates her.

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Security footage from an Annapolis bar released on Tuesday shows a veteran lobbyist placing his hand on the back of a female state senator, sliding it down and possibly touching the top of her buttocks before he pulls away.

Gil Genn, who obtained the video from CastleBay Irish Pub, said it shows he did not touch Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan inappropriately.

“Yes, Lord, thankfully there are videotapes!” Genn, a former state lawmaker, said in a statement.

Kagan, who accused Genn of “grazing her tush” during the March 1 incident, played the video several times at an Annapolis news conference and said it represents “undeniable proof” that her version of events is accurate.

“I have no comprehension how Gil Genn can watch that video and say that it vindicates him and his perspective … in any manner,” she said.

Both called for new legislation to govern interactions between lobbyists and lawmakers.

The one-minute, 26-second video shows Genn approaching Kagan from behind in a crowded bar, placing his left arm around her with his hand on her waist as he says something in her ear. He then slides his hand back, possibly grazing her buttocks.

Kagan laughs and steps away from him. The two continued to chat for more than a minute before Genn left.

The footage contradicts Genn’s initial description of the encounter. He initially told The Baltimore Sun that he was carrying an umbrella and coat when he approached Kagan. He said he would have had to reach his hand across his body in order to touch her back.

In the video, Genn is not carrying anything.

He also said that he never touched her “in any manner whatsoever,” and called Kagan “delusional.”

The video also contradicts accounts by Kagan and her former chief of staff, Justin Fiore. Both said that Kagan immediately froze after the incident. In the video, Fiore is looking away when it happened.

Kagan and Genn, both Democrats, have known each other for more than two decades, since they served overlapping terms representing adjoining Montgomery County districts in the House of Delegates in the 1990s.

“With the release of this video, it is now beyond dispute that I did not grab or grope her, as has been reported in the press from Senator Kagan’s statements,” Genn said in a statement Tuesday.

In a three-page statement last week, Genn apologized for calling Kagan “delusional” but repeated that he “kept my hands to myself” and that he was “100 percent certain” that his hands were full as he was leaving the bar.

Kagan said the video shows Genn’s version of events “to be inaccurate, would be the nicest way to say it. To be lies would be another way.”

The episode was the first time since the start of the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment that a sitting state lawmaker publicly accused someone of improper behavior.

Kagan said the incident shows that the General Assembly needs better and broader sexual harassment policies that also cover the interactions between lobbyists and the legislature.

Kagan told The Washington Post that she was relieved the incident was captured on tape.

“Most women who are harassed or sexually assaulted will not have access to such undeniable proof,” she said.

Kagan and Genn both said the incident and the video underscore the need for a way to resolve such disputes. But they offered opposite rationales.

“We need this legislation,” Genn said. “I pray that no one else has to endure the false allegations, like I did, by an accuser who chooses to resolve her claim in the media, instead of providing due process before a fair and independent forum.”

Genn, who has hired attorney Timothy Maloney, said the past 12 days “have been among the most painful in my life” and accused Kagan of making “numerous false allegations.” He said she owed him and his family an apology.

“But she cannot remove her false allegations from the internet, which will always be there any time someone Googles my name,” Genn said. “That damage is permanent and irreparable, and my counsel is reviewing what can be done about it.”

Kagan called the idea that she apologize or face legal action “absurd.”

“I’m done with this,” she said. “I feel like I started the conversation.”

ecox@baltsun.com

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