Del. Mary Washington questions pace of investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Curt Anderson

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Del. Mary L. Washington on Wednesday questioned the pace of the ethics investigation into Del. Curt Anderson’s alleged sexual misconduct and challenged legislative leaders to explain why they kept the inquiry quiet for so long.

Washington, who represents North Baltimore’s 43rd District alongside Anderson, wrote in a letter delivered Wednesday to top General Assembly leaders that their constituents were surprised to learn of the allegations published in The Baltimore Sun on Friday — and that an ethics inquiry had been underway for at least nine weeks.

“Our constituents deserve so much better than this,” Washington wrote in a letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch, both Democrats.

“It serves as a depressing reminder that, for all of the progress that is being made to empower women throughout America and across the world, Annapolis is still protecting perpetrators instead of these brave women who have come forward,” she wrote in the letter.

The Sun spoke with five women — three current lawmakers and two former staffers — who said Anderson has behaved inappropriately. The accusations range from an alleged sexual assault 14 years ago to an unwanted kiss and unwelcome comments about women’s appearance by Anderson, who has chaired the city’s delegation for nearly a dozen years.

Anderson has denied the allegations and could not immediately be reached Wednesday.

The woman who accused Anderson of a 2004 sexual assault filed a police report about the incident in December 2017, and the criminal case has been referred to the Maryland State Prosecutor, who has declined to comment.

In her letter, Washington asked the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics to release a public, interim report by the end of the week about the status of the investigation. The Democratic primary election is June 26.

“As it currently stands, the clandestine nature of this apparent investigation has ensured that our voters will be forced to make their decisions with an unacceptable lack of information about this matter of such obvious importance,” she wrote. “The fact that we know nothing about the investigation itself, those who are conducting it, or the status of the work is a deeply regrettable reflection of the secretive, backroom culture for which Annapolis is infamous.”

Under state law, ethics committee proceedings are confidential.

“Generally, when there are complaints made, that are criminal in nature, to the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee, they are referred to the state prosecutor or the state’s attorney for investigation first,” said Alexandra Hughes, Busch’s chief of staff. “Any investigation or action by the ethics committee would generally occur after that.”

A letter obtained by The Sun on Wednesday shows that Busch launched the ethics investigation into Anderson in January.

Busch asked the ethics committee to “take up the pattern of conduct that Delegate Anderson has engaged in with female staffers and members.”

The speaker wrote in the letter, dated Jan. 5, that he recently learned about the 2004 sexual assault allegation and a separate allegation from a current lawmaker that Anderson “inappropriately touched her on the floor of the House of Delegates.”

“While that member is not interested in filing a formal complaint, I believe that this shows a pattern of conduct that must be seriously reviewed and investigated,” Busch wrote.

The speaker, who was elected to the House’s top job in January 2003, wrote that this was the first time he used his authority to initiate an ethics investigation.

Busch was speaker when the woman who alleged sexual assault first came forward in 2004. He wrote in the letter that he was not aware of the complaint at that time.

ecox@baltsun.com

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