Frederick will hire an outside firm to conduct an independent investigation of allegations against one of the city’s aldermen accused of inappropriate conduct with women.
The firm, which is still to be determined, will look into reports that Alderman Roger Wilson had inappropriate communications and interactions with women, Mayor Michael O’Connor announced in a statement Thursday.
On Dec. 26, Alderman Ben MacShane posted on Facebook that he had heard from several women that Wilson had engaged in unwelcome advances, coercion and other inappropriate behavior.
Wilson has strongly denied the charges, calling them “false” and “slanderous.”
Wilson, MacShane and other aldermen said this week that they would support an outside investigation into the claims.
Shortly after MacShane’s Facebook post, O’Connor released a statement calling the allegations against Wilson “very serious” and saying they “do not keep the values and standards of the City of Frederick.”
Wilson has criticized the statement as an attempt to deter his challenge to O’Connor in the 2021 mayor’s race. Wilson was planning to launch a mayoral campaign in January.
In his statement Thursday, O’Connor said, “While social media is not the forum I would have chosen to announce such allegations, any claim of impropriety of the nature described by Alderman MacShane is alarming and must be taken very seriously. My subsequent response was intended only to assure [the] public that I was aware of these assertions and they would be addressed.”
MacShane said Monday that legislation is being developed for future similar situations, should they arise.
O’Connor also said the city is developing a process to deal with allegations against officials going forward.
“Beyond the current situation, I am committed to establishing a process whereby any future allegations against the City of Frederick’s elected officials can be appropriately addressed,” he said. “As we are in the early stages of considering potential legislative or policy changes, we are receiving and evaluating advice from city staff as well as outside organizations such as the Maryland Municipal League. The adoption of any city ordinance or policy is ultimately the role of the Board of Alderman.”