The day after Christmas, at 2:15 p.m., Alderman Ben MacShane posted on Facebook false and anonymous allegations of “years of widespread misconduct” on my part.

This alderman ambushed me. He has never raised these issues with me. He provided me no opportunity to respond, and no due process. Instead, he appointed himself judge and jury while demanding my resignation. He attempted to mobilize a mob on social media to destroy my reputation. The dark history of Black men like myself being wrongfully accused of this kind of misconduct is not lost on me, nor do I think it is lost on many in our community who are witness to these events.

My wife and three daughters are devastated. I am sad for them and for our community. For our family, the season of peace and joy turned ugly in an instant.

It is, of course, no coincidence that these disturbing allegations were made as I am preparing my campaign for mayor. In the 275-year history of our city, there has never been a Black mayor. I know some do not wish me to be the first. But I will not let Alderman MacShane’s falsehoods deter me. These types of tactics are a shameful part of our history. Fair-minded people have always rejected them.

Since Alderman MacShane’s ambush, I have been overwhelmed with support from the community, from my friends, and most of all, from my family. They have uniformly expressed strong support for my character. They have also expressed disgust for the manner in which Alderman MacShane made these allegations, and for the implicit support of his conduct by Mayor O’Connor. They can see that even the language used in these vague and unsubstantiated allegations seem to change with every mention. They know it’s not right. This should not be how we as elected officials conduct business in Frederick.

The idea that the mayor would hire lawyers, at public expense, to investigate his likely opponent on the eve of that election is outrageous. This taxpayer-funded witch hunt would be based on a slanderous Facebook post by the mayor’s ally, which contained the worst kind of innuendo: vague allegations by anonymous persons at unknown times with unexplained connections to the business of the city. This cannot be.

In my decades of professional and community service, I have never been the subject of a complaint that I am aware of. I support the right of every person who feels victimized or harassed by anyone to make a complaint. But Facebook should not be the place where these matters are adjudicated.

Two days after these allegations were first posted, I received a copy of a text message inviting people to a meeting hosted by Kate MacShane, Alderman MacShane’s wife. In the invitation, she was described as a clinical social worker and licensed psychotherapist. She invited guests to a confidential Zoom meeting on Dec. 28, 2020, at 8 p.m. to discuss me, offering the public the opportunity to attend with their video off and under an assumed name. The intent of the meeting was to share experiences and “discuss options for justice and explore next steps.” The source, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared the post with one of my advisers because they believed that Alderman MacShane had ulterior motives.

With great reluctance, I have retained counsel to determine whether I should bring an action against Alderman MacShane and his wife to stop this campaign of libel. The MacShanes’ living room should not be the place to decide these issues. Facebook should not be the forum to decide these issues. And certainly, individuals, boards and law firms subject to the control of Alderman MacShane and the mayor should not decide these issues.

I have been told that a jury of Frederick County citizens may be the only fair forum to vindicate my character. But I also know that litigation will not heal our community and may divide us even further apart. In the coming days and weeks, I will continue to meet with the citizens of Frederick, get advice from my attorney, family and friends, and prayerfully consider how to clear my good name.

To the citizens of Frederick, I have one humble request. Regardless of your opinion on this situation, I beg you to be kind to one another, online and in person. We have all suffered so much in the past year. The last thing we need now is to turn against each other during our greatest time of need. No matter who you are, or what party you belong to, we are all a part of this great community of Frederick. Let us treat each other with the respect and compassion of one neighbor to another.

For decades, I have served the Frederick community, on the board of Frederick Community College, the Fair Housing Commission, many service organizations, and now the Board of Aldermen. I will continue to serve on this board with pride and prepare my candidacy for mayor with a renewed determination to serve. I refuse to allow Alderman MacShane’s libelous allegations to silence my voice.

(39) comments

Burgessdr

The American system of justice is being assumed guilty unless proven innocent and then being indicted and tried in the court of public opinion on Facebook. And on private Zoom meetings. Oh wait, guess I got it wrong. Sorry. Never mind.

The proper course of action in this case is clear. Call a closed special meeting of the Mayor and BOA to discuss personal matters. Just like they have done many times. The fact that didnt happen smells terribly.

KellyAlzan

MacSHAME and o’com’mer are rookie politicians. Didn’t they learn from seeing ba’lane hang himself? Wee they not following along? The FNP sold record number of subscribers thanks to ba’Lane.

O’com’mer - because he’s convicting people on the World Wide Web

KellyAlzan

mr Wilson:

You’re running for mayor.

And debating slapping a suit on the Macshames.

Understandable and tough decision.

My suggestion: your attorney doesn’t want you to know this.......but wait until the election is said and done to slap a suit against MacSHAME. Statue of Limitations is six years.

Focus on becoming mayor.

Don’t let those haters distract you.

Once election is done - submit your Complaint to the court.

Business Owner

Is Ben MacShane still in high school?

matts853

I believe Roger Wilson is a good man. I truly hope these allegations are false and that MacShane pays a steep political price. O’Connor could have handled this better as well, but his options were limited once this was out on Facebook. Regardless of the outcome, MacShane is undeserving of re-election by going straight to the gossip chamber. That was a punk move through and through.

Dwasserba

"...offering the public the opportunity to attend with their video off and under an assumed name." What! Oh I did not know. I think women should network with women to resolve issues and it's unfortunate that the organizer is related, but her professionalism (I thought) would prevail. Oh my. NO

C.D.Reid

"The dark history of black men like myself being wrongfully accused of this kind of misconduct is not lost on me..." Just had to throw the race card, didn't you?

Piedmontgardener

LOL. Irony really isn't your strong suit, is it?

C.D.Reid

My point was that throwing the race card was not necessary. Your point is...?

Piedmontgardener

That you did exactly the same thing. That's called irony. Look it up.

C.D.Reid

Are you saying that making note of someone throwing the race card is also throwing the race card, Piedmontgardener? If so, I disagree. Wilson made the initial racial comment, I merely pointed that fact out. And if you think I only did that because he's black, you're wrong.

Piedmontgardener

Oh, CD, your material needs tuning. Next you'll tell me about all your black friends.

threecents

just my opinion, but charges were corroborated and credible. Among those making first hand accusations, Anita Hill in particular was very persuasive. I don't think she was using the race card...

threecents

I don't know if race plays into this, and I agree with CD that it is inappropriate to suggest it does without any evidence. I am reminded of the Clarence Thomas nomination hearing when he invoked the race card after being charged with sexual harassment. Looking back now, I think most people agree that the charges against him were accurate.

bosco

Any proof that those charges were accurate?

bosco

I see it as more of a knickers twister since it's two Democrats fighting it out over sexual harassment charges. Can they invoke #metoo? Can one accuse the other of playing the race card? How about the "unnamed" sources argument? Can't play the favorite CNN "if true" card.

[lol]

C.D.Reid

Yeah, bosco, whatever happened with that #metoo "movement?" I haven't heard much about them for quite a while. I wonder if all the pink hats are in moth balls now?

shiftless88

I didn't catch your protest when Mrs. MacShane threw the gender card. Did I miss that?

stevemckay

Strong letter Roger. I am disgusted by the way this was handled by Mr MacShane. Everyone deserves the right to face their accusers - if there are any - and be given a chance to be heard. That didn’t happen here. Instead, you were found guilty by the “court” of social media based on innuendo and rumor. The crass political timing of the attack is obvious to all. “Ambush” was exactly the right word.

threecents

Steve, How should this situation have been handled - assuming there really are multiple allegations? How should such a situation be handled if it happens to a councilman?

Dwasserba

That's why a process needs to be defined. There is no clear route to an equitable solution.

stevemckay

Threecents - I thought Peter Samuel was spot on his comments the other day. MacShane should have requested a closed session to air the allegations with the Aldermen and then let the body decide on a course of action that would hopefully start by confirming actual transgressions. Here’s the thing. Allegations like this - true or false- can destroy a public career. A reputation can be hard won and easily lost.

shiftless88

Does it make a difference if this was related to his duties as an Alderman? I mean, shouldn't it be a police matter if it is not?

stevemckay

shiftless - a police matter? How about we first find out IF something happened, then WHAT, and then contemplate whether any criminal laws were broken. All of this should have been done BEFORE splashing anonymous allegations all over Facebook.

KellyAlzan

Steve is on the track.

I’m known for being forthright and brutally honest and to the point. And not often, but once in a while, yes, there is always someone that takes offense to my style.

What I’m saying is just because what someone says or doesn’t say, and it upsets you - that doesn’t make it a crime or even harassment.

Steve is correct. Let’s first see if there is anything criminal. If not, next we need to see if there is anything unethical. Unethical and criminal are two different things.

shiftless88

Steve; I wholeheartedly agree but I am confused why there seems to be this impression that there is a loophole. If there is someone who believes they were sexually harassed, which is a crime, they should just report that crime to the police. Not talk to one of the colleagues of the alleged perpetrator and who then splashes it on FB. MacShane's never should have even gotten involved.

stevemckay

shiftless - I'm not sure that I agree with the notion of a loophole either. However, I do think there is a wide range of behavior & actions that get lumped together as "sexual harassment", much of which probably does not rise to the level of criminality. Still, this was handled very poorly - on that we seem to agree.

threecents

Shift, There are many levels of sexual harassment that don't even come close to being criminal offences. I don't think MacShane alleged that crimes were committed. That is part of the problem here - that we don't even know what the accusations are.

francesca_easa

Mr. Wilson I know the majority of people believe you. The fact that you are a Black man has NOTHING to do with this soap opera. It is more of two coworkers feeling threatened by someone who has done a better job and whom the public trusts more than the mayor and your fellow alderman. I have always told folks I like you because you show up, kick *** and get things done. Exactly what the City needs.

bosco

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Piedmontgardener

It's about time this town's politics grew up. Love to see some new faces running that aren't into small town power grabs. This entire fiasco was cooked up by adults who don't have the sense of 12 year olds. If there are real accusations, let them be made and heard.

Dwasserba

Ok. In theory, I agree. But as a point of history, women " coming forward" with accusations can be a risky move when they're just kind of guessing which way to turn, often stepping into "it." Cough. Real often.

KellyAlzan

”The MacShanes’ living room should not be the place to decide these issues.”a

So very true.

And the letter is very well worded and well written Mr Wilson. You’ve earned my respect, so far I’d love to see you become mayor.

Very very well worded and well said alderman Wilson.

CaringCommunity

This is no way to treat Alderman Wilson or anyone else. Just not fair.

PurplePickles aka L&M

Agreed but you know Mr. Wilson is going to sleep well tonight, MacShane, Ms. MacShane, the mayor, not so much. So there’s that...

KellyAlzan

I don’t think MacSHAME has hardly slept since he hit the POST button on his FB. FB can get a person in hot water with the click of a button.

Dwasserba

What am i not understanding. The mayor doesn't have a process in place for this, so he is involving an outside source to evaluate the situation. Has he expressed an opinion I'm not aware of. Maybe he always was the Mayor Who Never Sleeps. In any case, whaaaat?

KellyAlzan

Purple’s mention of the macshames and the mayor not sleeping is referencing a potential for civil lawsuits on the macshames and the mayor.

Lawsuits are very stressful and usual run $40 to $70k is attorney fees. And that’s where the loss of sleep comes from.

Since MacSHAME made the slanderous and libel comments as a citizen, and not as a city representative, in thinking he would have to foot lawyer compensation out of his own pocket.

My suggestion to Wilson is do not pursue litigation on the macshames until have the election. We have 6 years to sue someone. So wait until after the election.

PurplePickles aka L&M

Kelly

If you are still looking at the comments??? Actually what I meant by not sleeping well had nothing to do with possibly pending lawsuits, but the fact that Mr. Wilson knows he is innocent and the MacShane gang knows that too and their effort to bring Mr. Wilson down is going to bring them down instead in so many ways, the possibly pending lawsuits are the least of their worries right now....

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