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Former Gov. Wilder Denies Sexual Misconduct Allegations

former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder
Former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder

A recent VCU investigation found that former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder kissed a 20-year-old student without her consent. But now, Wilder is denying the allegations and challenging the investigation's findings.

Virginia Commonwealth University student Sydney Black filed a Title IX complaint against Wilder back in December. Up until now, Wilder has refused to speak publicly about the allegations because he said he wanted to respect the process of VCU. Wilder is currently employed as an adjunct professor there.

In a blog post, Wilder said the university investigation was biased and violated due process.

“I have stated that the allegations were proven to be untrue and that the ‘truth will out,’” he said. “I do not accept responsibility for any non-consensual sexual contact.”

Wilder also questioned Black’s credibility and said her testimony to investigators are filled with inconsistencies.

Black has accused Wilder of taking her out to dinner and kissing her against her will. She says Wilder provided her with alcohol that night, even though she was just 20 years old.

After the incident, Black said Wilder offered to let her live in his home and pay for her to attend law school, which she said she declined. Black also said she was fired from her work-study job at VCU in retaliation.

Investigators released a report of their findings earlier this month, recommending that Wilder be held responsible for non-consensual sexual contact related to the kiss, but not responsible for three other allegations of gender discrimination, sexual exploitation, and retaliation.

Jason Wolfrey, an attorney representing Black, said his client was happy with the conclusions reached by investigators.

“She’s very pleased with that finding, vindicating and affirming what she reported about Mr. Wilder’s conduct,” Wolfrey said.

Wilder saw the report much differently. In his response, Wilder highlighted numerous issues that investigators found in Black’s testimony. For example, they found that Black was let go from her part-time job at VCU not out of retaliation, but because her federal work-study aid ran out. Emails from Black show she was aware of that.

“The investigator has shown no reason from any evidence produced that there was any more reason to consider what Sydney Black said to be any more credible in [the allegation of kissing] than what she considered in [the other allegations], which were dismissed, therefore all should be dismissed,” Wilder reasoned.

VCU has not responded to requests for comment about the investigation.

Wilder has filed a contesting statement with VCU, meaning the university will now hold a hearing on the accusations. If he is found responsible for non-consensual sexual contact, Wilder could face professional sanctions including termination.

You can read Wilder's full contesting statement  here.

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