Exclusive: Woman in Rep. Durham investigation speaks out - WSMV News 4

Exclusive: Woman in Rep. Durham investigation speaks out

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Jeremy Durham (WSMV File) Jeremy Durham (WSMV File)

A recent report based upon an investigation conducted by the Attorney General detailed numerous claims in which Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, used his power to make inappropriate or sexual contact with 22 women.

One of them has decided to break her silence.

The woman, who asked to keep her identity private, said she will not be stepping foot inside Legislative Plaza for a long time.

That’s how deeply she was affected by Rep. Durham and his actions.

She sat down exclusively with the Channel 4 I-Team to share her thoughts on the AG’s investigation, the possibility of a special session and Durham.

In a letter, she wrote out, line by line, what she said the last few years have been like.

“This is somebody who has been traumatized by the whole thing, continues to be traumatized because of the recent investigation of this and wants it to go away, wants people to see that she’s not a Jane Doe,” said Kevin Teets, the woman’s attorney.

One day after the report’s release, Durham announced he would be suspending his re-election campaign. But he also took the opportunity to deny most of the accusations made in the report.

“The great majority of the anonymous allegations in the AG report are either completely false or taken completely out of context,” he said.

“I genuinely hope that Representative Durham gets his life right spiritually,” the woman told the I-Team.

Her lawyer also weighed in.

“I would say the representative knows what he did. He knows what he’s done to these women,” Teets said. “I’ve sat with my client many times. These are real emotions. This is not something that’s fabricated.”

As for what happened between her and Durham, the woman said they met several years ago. She claimed the lawmaker used his position of power to get close to her and abuse her trust.

Still she said she began to move on with her life.

But then came the AG investigation.

That’s when her attorney said things got worse.

“What was told to us by the Attorney General’s office was complete anonymity would be the goal, that identities would not be given,” Teets said.

He added that his client felt pressured into cooperating, afraid a subpoena would make personal information public.

The woman summed it up like this: “I feel like I did the right thing by interviewing with the Attorney General’s Office, but my privacy was not protected like it should have been and this has affected me both mentally and physically.”

“My client feels that her rights, as a victim, were not the primary concern of what the committee or those involved in that process were focused on,” her lawyer said.

She puts it this way: “I don’t want to be dragged into a political game.”

She’s not alone. The I-Team spoke to three other anonymous people interviewed in the report who noted their surprise at seeing their personal details exposed – clues that could be easily identified by capital insiders.

Another fear involves the special session proposed by lawmakers. The goal of the session would be to expel Durham from the legislature, ensuring he loses his pension.

Republican leaders are offering two petitions: one to oust Rep. Durham, the other to oust Rep. Durham and Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, who is currently on federal trial.

Two-thirds of House and Senate members must sign a petition for the special session to occur.

House clerk Joe McCord confirmed the rules would be determined during the session.

At this time, it’s unclear if the report would be used as evidence or if witnesses would be called to testify.

“If this were to take place, it would drastically affect my life and there is no way I wish to relive this again,” said the woman interviewed by the I-Team.

“Anyone pushing to move forward on a legislative session that’s likely doing so for their own political purposes, my client is not a pawn in your political game, and it needs to stop,” Teets said.

Teets questions the bystanders who did nothing. He wants to know why the lawmakers who knew about Durham’s behavior are only taking action now.

“You can’t show up wearing a cape and acting as a savior when you sat there years ago and were aware of the culture and did nothing,” he said.

As for Durham keeping his seat, the woman wrote: “I hope that the voters have heard this story and make a decision that is right.”

An attorney for Rep. Durham said he has no comment at this time.

Harlow Summerford, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office released this statement:

The investigation was the designed to obtain voluntary cooperation and was not in the context of a legal proceeding. Upon completion, the Attorney General issued a report of findings to the Committee. I would refer to the Committee’s final report, which addresses privacy of witnesses. The investigation was difficult on a number of fronts, certainly on those women who came forward and showed a great deal of courage.

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