Virginia Democrats who thought they had weathered a month’s worth of scandals in February involving top elected state officials, blackface admissions, and sexual assault allegations are now facing another one.
Per a story from today’s Washington Post, the latest accusations center around an alleged sexual harassment incident and pattern of behavior involving former Gov. Doug Wilder and a VCU student:
A student who worked with L. Douglas Wilder at the Virginia Commonwealth University school named for the former governor reported to the university and police that Wilder sexually harassed her by kissing her without consent.
The woman, Sydney Black, 22, said Wilder, 88, also suggested she could live at his house and offered to take her on foreign trips and pay for her law school in 2017, while she still worked as an office assistant at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.
Three months after that encounter, Wilder told Black that funding for her hourly position had lapsed, Black said. She withdrew from college in the fall of 2018 and re-enrolled this semester.
Black said she worried about the influence someone with Wilder’s power and connections could have over her education and feared he already had caused her to lose her job. The pain of seeing him on campus contributed to her decision to temporarily withdraw from classes, she said.
Wilder, who is not married, has had a long and distinguished career in Virginia politics. He served in the general assembly for nearly two decades, was Lt. Governor from 1986 to 1990, and was Governor from 1990 to 1994. He was the first elected African-American governor in U.S. history. He later served for a time as the mayor of Richmond.
Assuming what Black is saying is true, what’s bothersome about all of it is not so much the attempted kiss – he stopped when she told him to – but the (alleged) repeated attempts to use his power, position, and money to try and coax her into something more than just a student/professor relationship – and how he (allegedly) used that power and influence over her.
We’ve heard and read about things like this happening all too often in professions across the spectrum, but it’s especially prevalent in politics, big business, and Hollywood. In fact, someone you know has probably had similar uncomfortable and in some cases life-altering experiences.
It will be interesting to see how Virginia Democrats treat these allegations, in light of the others they’ve had to deal with over the last month and a half. Wilder is a respected figure in Virginia politics, he’s almost 90-years-old, he’s not an elected official (unlike Lt. Gov Fairfax) anymore, is a veteran of the Korean war, and is viewed as a civil rights pioneer in his state.
None of this justifies his alleged behavior, of course.
My bet is that Virginia Dems will do their best to ignore this one and instead let it play out in the VCU system. Wilder is a part time adjunct professor at the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU, and makes $150,000 a year.
He dropped an unrelated lawsuit against the school last summer.
—Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–
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