Bates under fire, won't resign seat

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WESTBROOK— Dillon Bates will continue to serve as a Westbrook state representative until his term runs out at the end of the year despite calls for his immediate resignation, his lawyer said this week. 

The call for his resignation came in the wake of published reports about his alleged inappropriate behavior with students at Maine Girls Academy, where he worked as a teacher and a soccer coach.

“The allegations made against Rep. Bates are deeply troubling,” House Speaker Sara Gideon said in a statement Aug. 3. “I cannot condone this behavior, I value the voices of the young women who came forward and I have requested that Rep. Bates resign from office immediately.”

Bates declined to comment to the American Journal this week, saying “at this time, I am making all public statements through my lawyer.”

“Rep. Bates certainly appreciates that Speaker Gideon has expressed concerns about allegations that have been made against him. But any allegations are completely baseless,” attorney Walter McKee said in an email to the Portland Press Herald. “There is not a shred of evidence to support the suggestion that he engaged in any misconduct. Rep. Bates will serve out the rest of his term.”

McKee didn’t respond to a request for additional comment about the allegations this week.

Bates resigned from Maine Girls academy abruptly in November after three years at the school, citing a desire to spend more time with his family. For that same reason, Bates told the American Journal in May he would not be seeking reelection to the Legislature.

He and Janelle LoSciouto have a 2-year-old and an infant.

“Perhaps, when the kids are school-aged, I’ll return, who knows, but for now the decision had to be made. I plan to stay involved in the state and community,” Bates said at the time.

Bates and LoSciouto recently launched Presumpscot Stage, a community theater company in Westbrook. The company staged its first performance, “Urinetown,” at the high school last month. Bates has said he wants to set up a permanent place for the company and offer a three or four show season beginning next summer.

A 2011 graduate of the University of Maine, Bates was first elected to the House District 35 seat in 2014, beating Republican challenger Emily Downing 2,165 to 1,701. He won re-election in 2016, defeating Republican James Bourque  2,846 to 1,962. Democratic City Councilor Ann Peoples is running against Bourque for Bates’ seat. Peoples represented Westbrook in the House of Representatives from 2006 to 2014 when she was replaced by Bates.

According to the Press Herald, “Gideon’s call for Bates’ resignation prompted a partisan response Friday afternoon from Nina McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the Maine Republican Party.”

In a statement to the paper, McLaughlin said she “personally heard concerns” about Bates having an inappropriate relationship with a student, but “Democrat House leadership defended Rep. Bates by telling several people who inquired that it was simply not true. Someone needs to get to the bottom of this.”

According to the Press Herald, the paper had been investigating the allegations since the spring. It asked Bates about the allegations directly in March, and he dined them. According to Mary-Erin Casale, Gideon’s spokeswoman, Bates also told the Speaker of the House directly that the allegations were false. 

“We confronted Rep. Bates immediately, who denied the rumor, and we were unable to otherwise find any substantiation, actual proof or evidence of any victims of the allegations,” Casale said in an email to the Press Herald Monday. “At that point, we told Rep. Bates that if any evidence or new information was presented that indicated there could be truth to what was then a rumor, that we would ask him to resign immediately.”

The allegations were published Aug. 3 in an issue of a Portland publication, The Bollard, which reported, based on anonymous sources, that Bates allegedly had three “romantic or sexual” relationship with students. The paper did not name the individuals, but did quote one of them anonymously.

Bates has worked as  a track coach at Massabesic High School and had been hired to be the cross country coach this fall, but Superintendent Larry Malone said Bates, who was the indoor track coach for two seasons and boys outdoor track coach for the last three, is no longer under contract to coach.

“We heard from Dillon and he is not going to be moving forward with a coaching position,” Malone said.

Bates has also coached or worked at Greely Middle School in Cumberland, Lincoln Middle School in Portland, Bonny Eagle High School in Standish and Gorham High School and Great Falls Elementary School in Gorham. Bates had been the education director at Schoolhouse Arts Center, but has resigned from that position.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 781-3661 x 125 or mkelley@keepmecurrent.com or on Twitter @mkelleynews.

Dillon Bates has been asked to step down from his job as state representatives after allegations of improper behavior with students surfaced last week.

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