In a first for the Vermont Senate, the chamber voted to suspend State Senator Norm McAllister on Wednesday following his May arrest for sexual assault.
McAllister was accused of sexually assaulting two women, one of whom was an intern at the Statehouse. He has pleaded not guilty. According to a report by VTDigger, he had already been stripped of his committee assignments prior to the vote, but refused to resign.
In a Republican caucus on Tuesday, McAllister contested the suspension on the grounds that he has not been convicted:
“It would have been much easier had I resigned way back in the beginning, but I felt that I was not guilty of anything, and the only one who knows I’m not guilty is me. Others may prejudge me for what they read or saw but that’s not always fact. I do not feel I should be ostracized for something I am not guilty of.”
Ultimately, 20 voted for suspension and 10 against. VTDigger reports that the suspension means he can’t vote, sit in the Senate chamber, or participate in committees; he will, however, continue to receive pay. The suspension will be lifted if charges are dismissed. However, the Burlington Free Press reports that since a senator has never been suspended in Vermont (other options on the table were expulsion and censure), no one, including McAllister, is quite clear on the implications.
Following the vote, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott remarked (via VTDigger): “Today the Vermont Senate, for the first time in history, suspended one of its own members—Sen. Norman McAllister of Franklin County. It is unfortunate the Senate was forced to take such action in this unprecedented situation, as it is my belief Sen. McAllister should have resigned before now.”
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Image via Associated Press.