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Former Governor Wilder Claims He Was Cleared Of Sexual Harassment Allegations, But VCU Says That's 'Premature'

Former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder speaking at a press conference Thursday at the public affairs school that bears his name.
Former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder speaking at a press conference Thursday at the public affairs school that bears his name. (Roberto Roldan/VPM)

Former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder says a review panel has cleared him of sexual misconduct allegations. 

He was accused of kissing a female student without her consent. Wilder, who was the first elected African American governor in the U.S., currently teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University as an adjunct professor. A ten-month Title 9 investigation cleared him of several allegations including retaliation. But the third-party investigators recommended in July that the university find him responsible for non-consensual sexual contact.

Wilder appealed that finding, and he announced that appeal was successful at a press conference on Thursday.

“I am pleased that the panel members confirmed what I have stated from the very beginning of the investigation,” Wilder said.

But a spokesman for Virginia Commonwealth University calls Wilder’s statement “premature.” The university has not yet issued a final judgment, so the former governor could still be subject to disciplinary action.

"His media advisory and statements made at the news conference are his own and do not represent an official statement of the University," said Michael Porter, VCU's associate vice president for public affairs.

Back in December, a former student 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, the student said Wilder offered to let her live in his home and pay for her to attend law school, which she said she declined. The student also alleged she was fired from her work-study job at VCU in retaliation.

A lawyer for the young woman that accused Wilder of sexual harassment did not respond to a request for comment.

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