Under the Dome

Amid calls to resign, Duane Hall acknowledges kiss but denies harassment

State Rep. Duane Hall speaks to the crowd prior to former president Bill Clinton's remarks at a Hillary Clinton for North Carolina campaign event March 7, 2016 in Raleigh. Democrats called on Hall to resign on Feb. 28, 2018, over allegations of sexual harassment. He defended himself in an interview published Friday.
State Rep. Duane Hall speaks to the crowd prior to former president Bill Clinton's remarks at a Hillary Clinton for North Carolina campaign event March 7, 2016 in Raleigh. Democrats called on Hall to resign on Feb. 28, 2018, over allegations of sexual harassment. He defended himself in an interview published Friday. jhknight@newsobserver.com

A North Carolina legislator who faces allegations of sexual misconduct defended himself in an interview with a News & Observer opinion writer, who posted a column Friday.

Gov. Roy Cooper and Democratic party leaders called on state Rep. Duane Hall, a Raleigh Democrat, to resign on Wednesday after NC Policy Watch, a news organization that is part of the liberal advocacy group the NC Justice Center, published a story in which five people – some of them anonymous – accused Hall of inappropriate conduct.

Policy Watch published a second story on Thursday in which two more people came forward with similar accusations. At the heart of the story are allegations that Hall kissed a party official without her consent at a Democratic function in summer 2016 and kissed another woman at an Equality North Carolina event the same year.

Hall, 51, admitted to N&O columnist Ned Barnett that he inappropriately kissed the party official. But he denied the other allegations and challenged the notion that he harassed anyone.

“I think harassment is when they say no and you continue,” Hall said.

“I just know I didn’t harass anybody and I can’t leave and let that be the last word because it’s an admission of guilt,” Hall said. “I would like to fight. I don’t know if I can win, but you have to try.”

Hall didn’t explicitly say if he will or won’t resign. It’s unclear whether Hall will seek re-election. He didn’t respond to calls or texts from a reporter Friday.

The column quotes Democrats – some named, some unnamed – defending Hall.

The state Democratic Party, state House minority leader Darren Jackson, state Rep. Cynthia Ball, state Rep. Grier Martin and state Rep. Bobbie Richardson, among others, have called on Hall to resign.

Reacting to Barnett’s column Friday, state Sen. Jay Chaudhuri of Raleigh joined the group of Democratic legislators calling on Hall to resign.

“My hope is that Rep. Hall will step down and use his time away from the General Assembly to self-reflect upon his actions, esp. from these women’s perspectives, and learn from his inappropriate behavior,” Chaudhuri tweeted.

Paul A. Specht: 919-829-4870, @AndySpecht

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