Rep. Duane Hall, a Democratic legislator from Raleigh, says all the right things about women.
He regularly posts supportive messages on social media, including photos from the women’s rally in Raleigh, which he attended in January.
That same month, he tweeted a tribute to Lillian Exum Clement, the first woman to hold legislative office in North Carolina and the South.
But when it comes to his personal interactions, a different story emerges. In two damning articles last week, the progressive online site N.C. Policy Watch detailed multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, unwanted advances and sexual innuendo against the three-term legislator. Those incidents included Hall forcibly pulling a woman into his lap, kissing her and taking a photo with his cell phone at an Equality NC event in October 2016, and kissing a party official without her consent at a Democratic party function earlier that year.
Democrats from Gov. Roy Cooper to House Democratic leader Darren Jackson, a close friend of Hall’s, have called on him to resign. Hall, a charismatic rising star in state politics, has resisted. On Sunday, he released a statement attacking Policy Watch and saying he would stay in his House race.
“I won’t resign from my seat because of anonymous false accusations,” he wrote.
The accusations aren’t all anonymous, however. Jessie White said Hall propositioned her when she talked to him about a job on his staff in 2016. Ben Julen, a former Equality NC worker, said he saw the 2016 incident in which Hall pulled a woman onto his lap and took a photo in the lobby of the downtown Raleigh Marriott. The woman involved has worked for several Democratic candidates, Policy Watch says. She told the publication: “My buddy tried to pick me up off his lap, but he wouldn’t let me go.”
In his statement, Hall says it’s easy for people to quickly call for his resignation to get through the news cycle. We agree that no such calls should be made in a casual fashion, and while we believe that all women deserve to have accusations of sexual misconduct heard, we acknowledge that in cases where a single accusation is levied and denied, the truth may be elusive.
But the allegations against Hall are substantial and credible. They also are numerous, and they’re backed up by people willing to go on the record.
Hall does damage to his party by remaining in office, running for another term, and jeopardizing a Democratic-held seat. More importantly, he does a disservice to women by dismissing the accusations against him as a plot by the Democratic Party to install a person of its choosing in his House seat.
He should resign, immediately.