22 women accuse Tennessee Republican of unwelcome sexual advances
A Tennessee state lawmaker was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with 22 women over a four-year period in a state attorney general’s report released on Wednesday.
Republican Representative Jeremy Durham repeatedly made unwelcomed advances toward female legislative staff, interns and lobbyists since being elected in 2012, according to a report issued to a legislative committee investigating his conduct.
Durham declined to be interviewed by investigators, the report said, and he was not immediately available for comment.
“The investigation has been a politically motivated, unfair and unconstitutional process,” said Durham’s attorney Bill Harbison in a statement to the Nashville CBS affiliate News Channel 5.
The report details interviews with 22 unnamed women who described numerous occasions when the married legislator flirted and made suggestive sexual comments or physical advances toward them.
In one case, Durham had sex with an 20-year-old campaign worker in his legislative office and again in his home. On several occasions, he sent text messages or used social media to make “inappropriate” comments to several women.
One of the women described the messages as “terribly inappropriate” while another said his behavior “creeped her out.”
Two women said they nicknamed Durham “pants candy” after he offered them dirty mints from his pocket in a suggestive manner.
A lobbyist told investigators that Durham suggested he would vote for a bill she was promoting if she entertained his advances. “I’m for your bill but I’m going to expect something in return,” he told her according to the report.
In a memo attached to the report, the committee said it will leave Durham’s fate to the voters as he is up for re-election in November.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Tom Heneghan)