RICHMOND — Former Gov. Douglas Wilder on Tuesday released his formal response challenging an investigator’s finding that he kissed a Virginia Commonwealth University student without her consent.
In a blog post titled: “Due Process at VCU? Make it Real,” Wilder writes that “the truth will out” and links to his full statement, which concludes that the investigator’s reasoning is “unsound, biased and violates due process.”
He says the investigator’s finding should not be adopted and that his accuser’s complaint should be dismissed as unfounded.
Wilder writes: “The external investigator’s conclusion ‘that it was more probable than not that Wilder kissed complainant and touched her knee’ is not based on sound reasoning, is inconsistent with investigative findings and set forth in her report, and is simply not supported by competent trustworthy evidence.”
The student, Sydney Black, has alleged in a complaint filed to police and school officials that Wilder took her to dinner on her 20th birthday in February 2017, gave her alcohol and kissed her.
The probe has cleared Wilder of allegations of sexual exploitation, discrimination based on sex or gender and retaliation. VCU will review Wilder’s formal statement before making a final finding in the case.
Wilder writes that Black told the investigator that before the alleged incident on Feb. 16, 2017, Wilder would refer to her as “Baby girl,” that he made derogatory statements and sexual overtures toward her and would look at her “in such a way that it made her uncomfortable.”
“Notwithstanding, by her own account she planned a dinner with Wilder” and in an email dated Feb. 14, 2017, she told Wilder that she would ‘be available on the date, time and location that [they] discussed!’ ”
Wilder writes that the exclamation point at the end of Black’s email suggests “excitement on her part regarding the impending dinner” and does not support Black’s narrative.
Wilder writes that Black told the investigator that she felt scared when she was alone with Wilder in his downtown condo after he allegedly kissed her and placed his hand on her thigh. He writes that “she also claimed that after the alleged incident, Wilder invited her to spend the weekend with him in Atlanta — which she declined and Wilder flatly denies.”
Wilder writes: “Notwithstanding these claims,” Black “drove over an hour to Wilder’s secluded Charles City residence — anticipating that it would be just the two of them there. This is hardly the behavior of a young woman who had been previously sexually assaulted by the person she was meeting and of whom she claimed she was ‘scared.’ ”
Wilder writes that Black called him eight times after the alleged incident.
“This is hardly the behavior of someone who was the victim of nonconsensual sexual contact, someone who — prior to the calls being made — was being pursued against her wishes, to whom unwanted derogatory and sexual comments, that made her uncomfortable, were made, or someone who feared the person she was calling.”
Wilder asserts in his response that “as someone who has championed minority and women’s rights, he “is sympathetic to the importance of ensuring Title IX allegations are fully investigated. In this circumstance, the preponderance of the evidence weighs in favor of finding that the allegations are false, lack credibility and reflect glaring inconsistencies.”
Wilder, 88, served as Virginia’s governor from 1990 to 1994 and as Richmond’s mayor from 2005 to 2009. VCU recently renewed Wilder’s contract as an adjunct professor for a year. It was set to expire on June 30.