We must take these accusations seriously, no matter who is accused of sexual harassment. Those in power have a responsibility to wield that power responsibly. When there is a power imbalance, it creates an opportunity for sexual harassment. Our elected officials must stay hypervigilant and must treat every person they encounter with dignity. We stand with Governor Cooper in calling for Duane Hall’s resignation. Even one accusation is too many, and we must listen to the voices of the accusers. According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) more than 300,000 people suffer sexual violence each year. If you need are one of these people and help, you can reach them at https://rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline.
The first time Rep. Duane Hall made Jessie White feel uncomfortable was in early 2016.
That’s when she says Hall, a nascent star in the North Carolina Democratic Party and a state representative, ran into her at the Anchor Bar in Raleigh.
Hall, 51, was looking for a new legislative aide for his office. White, a top campaign official with multiple Democratic candidates for the state legislature, said she spoke with the lawmaker about the vacancy.
“That’s when he said he wouldn’t hire me unless I gained 100 pounds,” she said. “Because I was too pretty.”
A charismatic politician with a lengthy list of connections among top North Carolina Democrats, Hall has risen since his 2013 election to wield significant influence as a member of the minority party in the Republican-dominated General Assembly.
But, behind the scenes, Hall has a reputation for more than his political prowess. Including White, five sources—some of whom requested not to be named for fear of repercussions in their current jobs—detailed persistent sexual innuendo from the three-term legislator and, in some cases, repeated, unwanted sexual overtures. Policy Watch knows the identity of the alleged victims, but has not published their names without their consent.
The allegations include claims that the lawmaker harassed a woman and kissed her without her consent at a 2016 Equality N.C. gala, and that he kissed a party official without her consent at a Democratic function in summer 2016.
As a result of Policy Watch’s investigation, top North Carolina Democrats called on Hall to step down Wednesday.
“Sexual harassment is never acceptable – no matter the party or politics,” said N.C. Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin. “These are serious allegations and Representative Hall should step down. The North Carolina Democratic Party has no tolerance for sexual harassment and we continue to encourage women to speak out against inappropriate behavior of any kind.”