A Virginia Commonwealth University appeals panel has cleared former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder of sexual misconduct allegations, Wilder said Thursday.
In a press conference Thursday inside the VCU school that bears his name, Wilder claimed that the appeals panel overruled an investigation conducted by an outside lawyer. That investigation found that Wilder kissed a 20-year-old VCU student against her will, but cleared him of other allegations made by the student, including sexual exploitation, sex-based discrimination and retaliation.
The appeals panel, which met last week and held a hearing for more than six hours, ruled against that investigation, Wilder said.
"I was not responsible for non-consensual sexual contact," he said Thursday.
A spokesman and spokeswoman for the university did not immediately return an email Thursday to confirm that Wilder had been cleared. Jason V. Wolfrey, the lawyer for the student who made the accusation, also did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment.
VCU declined to comment on the accusations when they first arose in March in The Washington Post.
“In accordance with state and federal laws, we seek to protect the privacy of students and employees,” said university spokeswoman Pam Lepley. “Therefore we do not disclose information about university investigations including whether or not an investigation is underway.”
The Washington Post reported in March that the student, Sydney Black, said the 88-year-old Wilder kissed her without her consent and offered to have Black live at his house. Wilder also offered to pay for law school, Black claimed.
Black worked as an office assistant at the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU, according to The Post.
Wilder claimed in July that the Richmond Police Department found Black's allegation “unfounded.”
"I have stated that the allegations were proven to be untrue and that the 'truth will out,'" Wilder wrote on his website in July. "I do not accept responsibility for any non-consensual sexual contact and have filed a 'contesting statement' outlining the violations, bias and inherent flaws in the investigation."
The university renewed Wilder's contract earlier this year. He makes $150,000 as a part-time professor in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, according to a copy of his 2017-18 contract.
His new contract expires June 30, 2020.
This is a breaking news story. It will be updated.