Ex-Virginia governor pushes back on harassment allegations

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder is pushing back against sexual harassment allegations made by a student six decades his junior.

Wilder thanked his supporters and called the allegations "baseless" in a tweet Friday.

His comments came a day after The Washington Post reported on a Virginia Commonwealth University-commissioned investigation that found Wilder had kissed student Sydney Black without her consent.

Wilder, 88, was the nation's first elected black governor and teaches at VCU. He has not previously commented on the matter.

The investigation also cleared Wilder of three other allegations the student made: sexual exploitation, sex-based discrimination and retaliation.

Black told police and school officials that Wilder took her to dinner on her 20th birthday, gave her alcohol and kissed her.

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July 11

An investigation has found that former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder did kiss a university student 66 years younger than he is without her consent.

But The Washington Post reports that the investigation also cleared Wilder of three other allegations the student made, of sexual exploitation, sex-based discrimination and retaliation.

The investigation was conducted by an attorney at the request of the Virginia Commonwealth University, where Wilder teaches.

The former student, 22-year-old Sydney Black, filed a complaint to police and school officials, saying Wilder took her to dinner on her 20th birthday in 2017, gave her alcohol and kissed her.

Black also said Wilder suggested she could live at his house, and offered to take her on trips and pay for her law school while she worked as an assistant at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.

“We are pleased the investigation has validated Sydney’s report to VCU about Mr. Wilder’s conduct,” Jason V. Wolfrey, Black’s attorney, wrote in a statement.

Wilder, who was the nation's first elected black governor, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. He has until Tuesday, July 16, to contest the investigation's finding of “non-consensual sexual contact," which could lead to a hearing by VCU’s Review Panel.

Possible sanctions could include Wilder's firing.