Investigation: Lawmaker sexually harassed women on job

Rep. Jeremy Durham

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- An investigation of a Tennessee state legislator released Wednesday found he took advantage of his position to sexually harass at least 22 women, including a then-20-year-old college student who told investigators Rep. Jeremy Durham plied her with a cooler full of beer and had sex with her in his office in 2014.

Another woman interviewed was a lobbyist who nicknamed Durham "Pants Candy" after she said he rummaged in his pocket before suggestively offering her a dirty, unwrapped mint.

The 48-page final report outlines a pattern of behavior in which Durham, 32, a married Republican lawmaker from the wealthy Nashville suburb of Franklin, tried to initiate romantic and sexual contact with female staff, interns, lobbyists and political workers.

Several of the women discussed feeling as though they could not say no to Durham because he held a position of power over them.

None of the women filed a formal complaint against him, and many told investigators they felt doing so would hurt their careers.

Rep. Steve McDaniel is chairman of a special committee of the House of Representatives appointed to look into the allegations about Durham.

He said Wednesday the group opted against recommending a special session of the legislature to oust Durham.

Such an ouster, he said, would only last until the November elections and not be binding on the upcoming session of the legislature.

Instead, McDaniel said, committee members will let the voters decide.

Durham has resisted calls from state GOP leaders to resign his seat and is running for re-election.

Early voting for state primaries begins Friday.

Durham's attorney, Bill Harbison, issued a statement Wednesday calling the investigation, "politically motivated, unfair and unconstitutional."

Harbison also criticized the fact all the women in the report are anonymous.

Some of the women told investigators their experience with Durham left them feeling bitter about politics.