Vermont Senate Votes to Suspend Lawmaker Following Sexual Assault Charge

Illustration for article titled Vermont Senate Votes to Suspend Lawmaker Following Sexual Assault Charge

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.

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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.”

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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.”


Contact the author at ellie@jezebel.com.

Image via Associated Press.

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DISCUSSION

To be blunt, this is the first thing that should have happened, ASAP after the story broke, and the Senate should be talking expulsion now 7+ MONTHS LATER, if he still refused to resign.

Someone needs to tell him you don’t lock yourself down and refuse to resign when you think you’re innocent. That is not a principled stand. A true public servant would realize the fact that serious charges were made means too much of your time and effort will be going toward your defense, and your constituents deserve better. He could have resigned in May, and a replacement could have been elected in November. Now instead this guy is collecting taxpayer money for doing nothing except showing up for his court dates, until who knows when.

I really don’t get what it is about public service jobs that means people are allowed to keep them while charges are pending. In the regular world, if legal charges are brought against you that even tangentially relate to your workplace, suspension is not a thing that happens. You get fired, and even if you’re eventually cleared if you for some reason want your job back you need to go back to court and sort out whether you were unjustly fired.

Remember a lot of these people are the same “government should be run like a business” crowd, who are essentially talking out of their behind when they let these things drag on.