VOL. 131 | NO. 51 | Friday, March 11, 2016
Tennessee AG Won't Divulge Details Of Durham Investigation
ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee attorney general on Wednesday declined in a committee meeting to give lawmakers details about his investigation into sexual harassment allegations against state Rep. Jeremy Durham, saying any public discussion could put the probe "in peril."
Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell last month called for Herbert Slatery's office to investigate after several women alleged inappropriate behavior by the Franklin lawmaker, both in person and via text messages.
"It's at a sensitive stage at this point," Slatery said. "And I'm really constrained to speak in any real detail about it."
In January, Durham stepped down as House majority whip and then withdrew from the House Republican caucus. He then went on a two-week hiatus from the General Assembly to seek medical and pastoral counseling. But the lawmaker has denied any wrongdoing, and has called the scope of the investigation "unreasonable."
Durham told the Williamson Herald last month that the attorney general's office has requested he turn over all electronic devices and personal email accounts.
Slatery would not say whether his office has obtained any evidence or issued any subpoenas.
"I wish I could really respond specifically to your questions, but I think you can appreciate the sensitive nature of the investigation," Slatery said in response to questioning by Democratic Rep. Bo Mitchel of Nashville.
"I'm not sure I'm going to be able to answer any of your questions on the investigation," Slatery said. "I just think it puts it in peril."
Durham did not immediately respond to an email message.
Slatery said he will report back to a special committee appointed by Harwell. He did not indicate when that report would be done.
A number of GOP leaders have called for Durham to step down, including Gov. Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and state Republican Party Chairman Ryan Haynes.
Durham's colleagues also questioned previous behavior that included writing a letter on House stationery on behalf of a former pastor who pleaded guilty to child porn possession and statutory rape of a 16-year-old parishioner.
Prosecutors in 2014 sought fraud charges against Durham on allegations of altering medical prescriptions, but a grand jury declined to indict the lawmaker.
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