Did a lobbyist grope a state senator? Now there's video. | WYPR

Did a lobbyist grope a state senator? Now there's video.

Mar 13, 2018

State Sen. Cheryl Kagan shows security footage from Castlebay Irish Pub in Annapolis during a press conference Tuesday.
Credit Rachel Baye

A state senator says newly released security footage proves her claim earlier this month that a lobbyist groped her at a karaoke event in Annapolis. But the lobbyist says the video exonerates him.

The 85-second clip of security footage from Castlebay Irish Pub shows lobbyist and former Delegate Gil Genn place his arm around state Senator Cheryl Kagan’s back and lean in, as he appears to whisper in her ear.

Kagan says his hand slid from her back down to her butt.

At a press conference Tuesday, she said that since she first made the accusation earlier this month, several women have told her about similar experiences they have had with Genn. 

“There have been women who have told me — prepare — that he stuck his tongue in their ear," she said. "A former staffer of his had to stop coming to work to a job she loved because of problems in the office. A woman came up to me at a concert I attended on Friday night to say, ‘Can I give you a little hint? Don’t ever get in an elevator with Gil Genn. He grabbed my ass.’”

Genn disputes Kagan’s claims. When Kagan first accused him, he denied touching her at all. In a revised statement released Tuesday with the video, he said he simply put his hand on her back, and he blamed the earlier inaccuracy on a memory lapse.

In an interview, Genn’s attorney, Timothy Maloney, accused Kagan of fabricating the other accusations she said came from other women.

“Now that the video has caught her not telling the truth about this, she starts trying to drag up new allegations. That’s kind of sad," Maloney said. "I think she ought to have the grace and decency to apologize.”

He said Genn will likely pursue legal action if Kagan doesn’t stop making these claims.

But Kagan said she felt it was her duty as a state senator to speak out, something junior staff members and interns might not have the clout or job security to do.

“Our current laws don’t cover incidents like this. They don’t cover lobbyists. There’s no independent investigator. There’s no opportunity for real consequences,” she said. “That has to change.”

She voiced support for legislation changing the existing sexual harassment policy to include lobbyists. The bill received a hearing in a House committee a little more than a week ago, but it hasn’t yet made it to the House floor.

“I am hopeful that before too long, the hashtag #MeToo will no longer be needed in Annapolis or anywhere else,” she said, growing emotional.