Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17) responded during a press conference Tuesday to lobbyist Gil Genn’s denial of her accusation that he groped her on March 1 at an Annapolis bar.
She “flagged” what she said were a number of issues with his three-page statement. She also showed security footage from the bar, Castlebay Irish Pub, of the incident. In it, Genn puts his hand on her back and moves it around, although it is hard to tell how far down it goes. Kagan also takes a step back afterwards, moving closer to the bar behind her, and turns away slightly. She and Genn, along with a former aide Kagan was standing beside, continue talking for another minute before Genn walks away.
“I was flabbergasted, I was astonished,” Kagan said. “In my head, while he was talking to me, I was having this internal dialogue that was, ‘Are you freaking kidding me?’”
Genn, a former Maryland delegate from Montgomery County, first told the Washington Post that he did not touch Kagan at all and called the accusation “delusional” to the Baltimore Sun, which he has since apologized for. His more recent statement admits to having his hand on her back, but also says the video vindicates him.
“I never groped her,” Genn said in his denial statement. “… Senator Kagan never once turned away from me. She remained actively engaged in our conversation for the next one minute and 19 seconds. She laughed, nodded at me, introduced me to her former aide, sipped from her drink, and even gave me a ‘thumbs up’ toward the end.”
Kagan has made an official complaint with the General Assembly’s director of human resources, which governs sexual harassment claims. But the current policy does not cover incidents by lobbyists. Del. Ariana Kelly (D-District 16) has proposed legislation to update the process to include handling of allegations against lobbyists.
The accusation against Genn is the first in Annapolis since the #MeToo movement took off after it was revealed Hollywood mogel Harvey Weinstein assaulted and harassed dozens of women.
At the press conference, Kagan brought up Genn’s change in message. She also said that in his statement he refers to his hands being full with an umbrella and coat, although neither can be seen in the minute-and-a-half video.
There has been a culture of silence in Annapolis for too long, Kagan said, where “men still fail to respect women’s boundaries.”